(this is the second part from the Larger theme New Year’s Myth of Eternal Return)
Like the E Coyote in Fast and Furry –ous, I, ever mindless of the anvils dropping on my head, cannot but turn it all into a questioning of the why of it all – what is the underlying meaning. It is not hard to notice that I am not the only one targeted these past few years – just watching the news on any channel in any possible country around the world brings enough evidence. Hardship, mishappenings, disruption and undoing seem to be the share of almost anyone, high and low, and difficulties seem to pile up over the heads of the famous and of the anonymous, of the wimp and the zilch and of the unaware. I cannot miss seeing that, wherever there is repetition, there is pattern, and, precisely because I choose to be a rational being and never insult my intelligence, I cannot allow myself to dismiss as just coincidences the things that show some hidden meaning.
It is the things that I see happening around me, around others and around the world that force me to admit that there is a plan in the adversity that makes us reach out, and, like Job, give out a loud cry: “Why, God, why me??” While I am not religious myself, I can’t understand the why of all this rage that atheists show against religion (but I can understand anyone’s stand against religious fanaticism). Sometimes it becomes so passionate that I ask myself, would’t this be the jealousy of the “don’t have’s” in confronts with those who have it? I, personally, have tried hard – but really hard – and yet haven’t arrived there, at the faith of Job, or at least up to the faith of my grandparents.
I have always envied those with a steadfast belief in God, whatever the religion – this makes their lives so much easier: in whatever enterprise we take, (and life is by far our biggest and longest) the whole difference between meeting with success or with total failure is that of knowing the rules, how to act and how to play – and, maybe, having some idea of the why of it all. It is this core belief, or knowledge of his God, which, undoubtedly, helped Job. It helped my grandparents all the same. It helped my grandfather cope with being dispossessed by the communists of all his property and assets he had inherited and accumulated along the sixty years of hard work; it helped him cope with authorities’scorn and with the humiliations against himself and his family, and, later on, when he was eighty, with the loss of his unique son in a car accident, and, along his ninety-something years of age, the list is endless.
It helped my grandmother – the most recent example I can remember of was when a fire started at a major electricity pillar a few hundred meters down her home – with all the commotion from the fire-fighters’ intervention and the panicked people, she just held her calm, never rising her eyes off her Bible. When we asked her how come, she just said that nothing is more important to listen to than the words of God.
For much thinking and trying to find some meaning, I can see how my grandparents and all those people who have faith find in it the spinal bone that keeps them standing. For them, life has meaning and has purpose, all like it did for Job,for whom this explanation was good enough: God has tried him and “performed” “what is attended for him”, because “affliction doesn’t just sprout out from the dust and the ground”, but “there is a purpose for it”. The parable is intended for us all, believers or non-believers, no doubt; its sense is that there is purpose in exploring life, particularly if we probe into hardship, that it is good for our own sublimation, in order for us to “come forth like gold”, that is, pure and shiny, essential and noble.
Easier said than done – I am not made of the hero stuff. What’s more, as I don’t live in Job’s days, I have a crave for things to be rational and to appeal to my logical mind. I guess my need for rationality started long ago, with that unanswered question that my grandfather, “the man who knew everything”, left unanswered.
As I was his first grandchild and we got to spend lots of time together, he felt it was his duty to teach me the things of the heaven and of the world; he taught me about God, the saints, and, from his religious-structured worldview, he resumed to me the universe : “God made us and everything there is”, he told me.
But this only left me thinking: who made God, then? And his answer was that these are the greatest mysteries of the world and that I shouldn’t try to go there. But, without my knowing, I did – or, rather, it was life that took me there – this chaotic life that makes no sense, apparently.