Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Today's post will not attempt to be funny

Last night, one of my sister's friends was killed in a car accident. Alcohol, racing and drugs were not involved. He swerved to get out of another car's way, his car "went off the road" and hit a brick wall. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 25 years old.

I had a conversation with my uncle's wife on Friday night about religious belief. She is very spiritual, if not ardent about practicing, and truly believes in God. She believes, as many many do, that if you do good, it will come back to you. Conversely, your bad actions will only reap upon you the seeds you've sown. That there is a Plan, and God's role in this world may not be detail oriented, but is active nonetheless.

She insisted that we cannot understand God and his actions and this Plan he's got. She tried to impress upon me that even if I don't believe in religion or God, I should believe that my actions have consequences. That I have to believe in the goodness of mankind.

I disagreed with her. Sometimes, what life doles out is the thing of nightmares, like a mother losing her 25 year old son in a meaningless car accident. But this ideology tends to manufacture explanations and create answers for situations that are inexplicable.

I don't subscribe to the rewards/punishment-Judeao/Christian school of thought. I don't believe in a God that I don't understand, who has created a world where his presence is supposed to have a positive impact, but really doesn't. I told her people should be good and do the right thing as an end in and of itself, regardless of potential outcomes. I refuse to believe a person's actions dictates their fate, and that somehow blame can be a factor in explaining the unexplainable. I refuse to believe in some Plan by some being out there which indiscriminately causes happiness and pain. What is she really asking me to believe in?

I believe that I have to be a good person. I believe that I have to treat others with respect, kindness and love. I believe that I have to take the high road. I believe that I have to do the right thing every chance I get. And I think I always, always have to do these things, regardless of what happens in my life or in the life of those I love. And I believe that that's where it ends. I don't think I'll be rewarded, I don't think that things will go my way if...., I don't think that anything will happen, except that I did what I could to be a decent person.

Terrible, terrible things happen to wonderful people. Amazing, great things happen to awful people. That's the way this world works. There are no explanations. There are no excuses. There is no way to rationalize it. It is what it is.

This was all I could tell my 19 year old sister as she was sobbing in my arms, asking for answers.

Last night a terrible thing happened to a very wonderful, very special, deeply loved person. I can only say his loss will be sharply felt by everyone that knew him. I can only wish his family and close friends my deepest condolences.

Because of this loss, todays world is not as good as yesterdays.

15 comments:

Claire said...

My condolences to you and your sister. Thank you for writing so thoughtfully about this topic.

Laynie said...

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. The world really is so impossible to understand. I hope your sister is finding solace in your arms, and that his family finds some peace.

matt d said...

I am truly sorry to hear of such a tragedy.

As far as doing good for your fellow man goes, I would say you just demonstrated that excellently in your post. Basically, such an eloquent and undeniably true piece is a gift to all who read it. A very sincere THANK YOU.

Dean said...

A large, loving family and group of close friends refused to allow another senseless death a few years ago to pass without giving some meaning to the victim's life. I hope Joel's site can provide some comfort, if not answers. It has for me, a middle aged goy. Prayers and condolences to your sister, you, and the young man's family. Shalom.

www.joelpollack.com

landismom said...

You have written eloquently about a difficult subject. I hope that your comments and love are a solace to your sister.

Robert Jimenez said...

My condolences to your sister for the loss, and my prayers will be with you, your sister and the family of your sisters friend.

spawn of satan said...

thank u for not having all the answers...id rather go through life trying to find them with you.

thank you for the beautiful blog.
- i love you big (but smaller) sis

Anonymous Me said...

Comic Strip and Spawn,

Please accept my condolences on your loss.

Anonymous Me

Disembodied Head said...

Please do not assume that all Christians believe in the Good Works = Rewards idea. I believe that no matter how much good I do in this world... it cannot compare with perfection. That is why grace is such an important factor in my faith in God. I can screw up repeatedly or I can do good things repeatedly, but because of God's grace I can still receive his gift of eternal life in Heaven through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, as long as I believe and am willing to accept this gift. Many people aren't willing. My hope is that because I am so overwhelmed by the grace of God I will choose to do "good" things to better serve God. I don't always. Every day I fail at this in some way, but I keep trying... not because of some future reward for doing good... that I have already received just by asking. When people ask me "Why would God let bad things happen?"... I ask them, "Why would God let good things happen?" Why only wonder about God when something bad happens when good things happen constantly and no thought is given to God about these things. God has never guaranteed a happy, healthy, and safe life for all... not even for all of his believers. If we had that, there would be no need for Heaven, a perfect place. Anyway - my 2 cents - take it for what it's worth... I'm just a guy that is also constantly struggling with life on a day-to-day basis.

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

This makes me very sad. There is just no explanation good enough.

The Mexican said...

I am deeply sorry and my condolences to you, your sister, and those who will miss him. In regards of why all this bad things happen, well, if bad don't happen in this world, how can we differienciate between good and bad if there is nothing to compare? I believe that bad thing happen so we can know the goodness that life can bring. Granted we are in control of our lives and only we will determine what will affect us and what not, but we have to remember that everyone else around us also have control of their lives. That is how Agency works, you do something and it could help or affect others. The Grace of God does come in, but only after we do all we can within out power to be good. Don't let tragic incidents change your beliefs. Those incidents should help you become stronger so you can face life better prepared so when the time comes, you can overcome the difficulties that life brings and be the supportive rock for other people.

Anne said...

Beautifully written. I agree with everything you said.

Erin said...

Good post, and I'm truly for your loss. My best friend died in a horrific car wreck almost a year and a half ago and truly there are no answers for "why?" It's nice to read somebody else who acknowledges that.

Ryan said...

You have my condolences. I'm a Christian and never got the impression that God was doing anything since 0 A.D. but watching what happens. I believe in Christ for what comes after life, and 100% agree with you that we live in chaos.