A friend recently posed the following philosophical question in two parts with a couple of ABCs for color:
"You enjoy sudden and unexpected good fortune..."
A) You get that promotion and the corner office you were never immodest enough to consider...or
B) While on vacation in Las Vegas you decide to bet the farm on one spin of the roulette wheel but you can't decide between 29 and 26. One is your birthday. The other your anniversary. Finally, you decide to bet on your wife. If you lose, it will be her fault. The wheel spins. The ball spins. You hear the click click click as the ball slows and drops into its nesting spot. You hear the croupier call the number and you are suddenly very glad you got married - at least on that particular day...or
C) If, you want to go all in, you arrive at your favorite convenience store just two minutes before closing time to purchase a ticket for the largest lottery drawing in New York State history. And, guess what, yours are the six lucky numbers - the ones you found in a fortune cookie - and you are the only one who bet them.
"...what is the first thing you say?
"Most people, my friend reported, utter, exclaim, shout and even hoot "Thank God!" or some other similar, dutifully grateful ejaculation. He conducted innumerable interviews over coffee at Starbucks, Tweeted and Twittered and posted the thought to the Facebook universe. He expressed confidence in his data.
The second part of the question elicited a less demonstrative, though no less definitive, answer.
A) You are making dinner when the phone rings. It is your mother and she's feeling lonely so you settle into the couch for a long conversation of "uh-huh" and "seriously?" You listen to her complain about how her best friend went to the store without telling her so now she doesn’t have bread and the milk tastes funny... It doesn't take long before you realize that the oil you left on the stove is really pissed and your kitchen is in flames. An hour later, the Fire Chief offers his condolences; the house is a total loss...or
B) You read about a small Southern farming community devastated by a tornado. This is the type of area that barely has the price of a Pepsi left over at the end of the year. An E.F. 5, "the Finger of God", if you believe the movie Twister, follows the interstate avoiding a junkyard, an old and seedy strip joint, the demolition derby track, those abandoned houses where high school kids go to have unprotected, premarital sex and maybe even that crack house that everyone knows about but no will admit exists before hanging a left on Farm Road 11. That's where the real fun begins. The crops, the barns, the animals (remember the cow from Twister), the equipment, even some of the homes...all gone. The Church of the Holy Harvest, built with virtually every cent of local, farming profit, stands white and sparkling in the middle of the devastation, untouched...or
C) You stumble across a news article about a man who took his legally acquired gun to his daughter’s school and shot everyone in her class. His action became “necessary” when she got an “F” on her 500 word paper on the subject of evolution. It seems her teacher took exception to the claim that dinosaurs walked the earth on the sixth day. His daughter, who always sat in the front row, was the first to go.
"...what is the first thing you say?"
There was an almost universal split between "Lord, help me", "Lord, protect me" and "Lord, forgive me". There was a small but statistically significant number that asked “why”. This latter group was not questioning the Almighty; they simply wanted to know what they had done wrong. This latter group did not answer why their indiscretions and sins caused death, destruction and devastation to others but my friend stood firm on the sanctity of his data.
And then, my friend posed his question:
"Why does God get all the credit but never any of the blame?"
He pointed out, in asking his question, that each individual who faced tragedy had worked hard to lead a good life and struggled everyday to do right by his family and neighbors. He went on to say that he could have described portraits of the most evil among us reaping great profits and causing immense harm without consequence but, for balance, choose only to address the good and the everyday.
I found the question intriguing but I am not going to answer it.
My friend did not answer it for me.
Your comments would be appreciated.