- Bob Ginsberg
Who Do We Blame?
I suppose that it is human nature to assign blame for things that go wrong. We do this in attempts to make sense of the apparent randomness as we seek meaning and purpose to our lives. Such reasoning takes many forms. If I break my leg after a trip and fall, it might be easy to identify the cause of my misfortune. It may have been the negligence of the store owner who left a hazard, or perhaps I blame myself for being careless, or maybe it was karma for some negative act in which I engaged. Shit happens, but we like to know why.
When a loved one dies, or when we witness mass tragedy, it gets infinitely more complicated as we try figure out how this possibly could have happened. Those with beliefs in organized religions often engage in inner turmoil as they try to reason how a loving God would allow this horror. Many feel that promises were broken, as they were always led to believe that if they abided by the rules, they would always be protected by the Creator. Did this loving God allow a child to be killed? Is this God watching as millions starve from hunger and suffer from disease? Was the deity overseeing the millions of people who were exterminated in concentration camps, or even aware that it was taking place?
Many would answer these questions with a yes to all these questions as they reason that it’s all part of a bigger plan. I am a pacifist by nature, but after my daughter died, I fought the urge to punch people after hearing their comments such as “God needed another angel” or “God never gives us more than we can handle.” Really? Bearing in mind that billions upon billions of souls have passed through the ages, God needs more help? Regarding the second statement, perhaps God has never seen the statistics that show how many bereaved people ruin their lives with drugs, alcohol, or take their own lives.
I would argue that a belief in God and the notion that we are left to our own designs and circumstances in this physical world are not mutually exclusive principles. It may very well be that God (or the Universe), by design, does not interfere in the happenings of our physical existence. Although certain organizing forces can be at play, such as synchronicities when two seemingly unrelated events come together to form meaning, our lives are dominated by free will, circumstance and randomness. In addition, if you believe as I do that our consciousness survives physical death, free will prevails in other realms as well. It is then logical to assume that our deceased loved ones try to assist us by influencing our decisions and interactions. This is quite different from a master planner deciding who lives or who encounters misfortune.
The likelihood is that we were put here for a reason. The ironic thing is that this reason does not become apparent until after we exit the physical. How we fare in this world has as much to do with luck as any other factors. Our free will, genetics, education, cultural and societal influences, etc. all come into play. If I finish writing this article, walk out to bring in the garbage cans and get hit by a passing truck, it is not because that was my fate or punishment – I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As I have written about before, this randomness prevails because it is the design. This is not a contradiction in terms. What matters is how we react to and deal with everything we confront and experience. The physical realm has been designated as an interference free zone. It is, and will always be, a mixture of joy and sadness while we are residents on this planet. We are here to simply experience as we remain part of the chaos.
So, are we doomed to a meaningless existence? Quite the contrary. My wife used to make the analogy of life to clothes spinning wildly in a dryer. You can watch the chaotic bouncing of the clothes, which is much like our physical world. But when we move to the non-physical realm, all the clothes are neatly folded and organized. Suddenly we see the fruits of our labor, the purpose and order. While we are here experiencing, we are laying the foundation for later understanding. We can learn a great deal from near death experiencers that tell us about the life reviews. They describe feeling the elation and love that emanated from compassionate things that they have done, while at the same time feeling the pain and distress that they caused to others by their misdeeds. This makes sense to me and provides insight into the purpose of this grand experience. No matter the amount of time we spend in this blip of existence, we will all see the greater design and meaning. Some of us, while we are here, are lucky enough to be able to catch glimpses of the non-physical realms. I often think that is the true meaning of life – to see past the chaos and recognize the continuum of life. My wife Phran, while close to her death, was asked to provide an answer as to the meaning of life. She replied that the question was quite simple, and it is purely to leave this world a better place. I think she was right.