Sunday, February 16, 2014

Will to live

In the aftermath of tragedy, people cope in a multitude of ways. One way I wish people would stop doing so is to say, "It was just their time" or, even worse, "When God calls you home, nothing can stop it." 

OK, maybe it's defensible if someone is dying of old age after a long, fulfilling life. Not so much when it's people who died because they weren't restrained in a car

I grapple enough with the idea that there is a God. I'd like to think there is, but I'll never know for sure, let alone know the specifics of its form and its degree of micromanagement. Sometimes it's more comforting to think there is no God, rather than one who would deliberately inflict tragedy and heartache upon people out of tough love or worse.

Over the years, I've lost many friends and family. Inevitably, someone said it was their time. And I would think, "If God has someone for all eternity, why can't we have them for a little while longer? It would still be eternity after that." Also, I bounced around happily in back seats as a kid, and I managed to escape injury. Does that mean God had a plan for me, and not those kids? Or does it mean God didn't deem me worthy of heaven's ball pit? So many questions, so few of them comforting and so many troubling — and none with definite answers.

In any case, people on Earth are unambiguously real. Their actions have tangible consequences both on themselves and on society. Faith can be wonderful, counterproductive or destructive. Perhaps the people saying this accident was divine will are retroactively trying to reconcile the situation. I hope so, because otherwise I never want to share the road with them. Sitting back and accepting whatever God plans for you is a recipe for reckless living, and that affects all of us. What some see as fate, others see as preventable horror.

No one should ever dismiss a tragedy as destiny, or live as if God will declare their own lives over at any moment. Nobody should buy the idea that heaven is in constant need of fresh, smiling faces, selected in a Final Destination draft lottery. Even if that is true, it's a fate worth fighting. Do all you can to ensure that you and your family stay alive, always. Nobody's perfect and accidents happen, but we can learn from those accidents, rather than resign ourselves to them and offer perfunctory prayers after the damage is done. 

If there's a spiritual lesson to be learned here, maybe it's that.

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