Firstly, Happy New Year 2019 my fellow netizens and as a good friend of mine once said, make decisions you can live with; even the bad ones.
Moving on, I have a question I thought worthy of placing in the court of public opinion. Best case scenario, I would receive enlightenment and clarity, worst case scenario, I would come out looking like an Idiot and that is totally fine because if you can’t laugh at yourself, then the world is going to be a brutal place to hang out in. I would put ‘receiving some nasty comments as a result of bruised and offended opinions’ somewhere in between best and worst because I prefer to not just hear but more importantly listen.
Full disclosure, I am not an Atheist or even an Agnostic. I believe I am very much Roman Catholic, born and brought up in the tradition of the church and the culture. Certain views of my faith have shifted recently and hence this ranty blog, however, the foundation remains pretty solid.
I was sitting at this new year’s solemn vigil mass in my hometown of Chennai (Yes, CSK dawww, Marina dawww) with my family members. During the Homily (a section of the service where the priest shares his unique message to the congregation), a very well known and well loved Jesuit priest decided that this was a great occasion to preach about how everything happens to us for a reason.
He shared the age-old story which most of us have heard more than a few times about the king and his minister who went hunting. There are very many variants to this story with different Gods and Deities but the underlying logic is standard. Very briefly the story goes like this:
A king and his minister go out hunting. And in the due course of their fun and games, the King injures one of his fingers pretty badly after getting attacked by a wild animal. AS the king writhes in horrible Agony and questions the existence of a God and his real intentions, the minister while administering first aid to the king, nonchalantly claimed that he was very sure God had a sound reason for this ill incident to befall the mighty king, basically saying it happened for a good reason. As any normal human being in agony would react, the King was furious at the minister and locked him up to rot away in a cell for Blasphemy, disrespect, and mockery.
As the story goes, the king goes out on a hunt again, this time by himself with no minister and then something worse happens. He gets captured by cannibals who feel like they have found a fantastic human sacrifice which of course is also supposed to be their next meal. The most important rule of the human to be worthy of sacrifice is to be free of any blemish or injuries but little did they know initially that the human they caught had a missing finger. Upon inspection, they find this blemish on the king and set him free and he returns home to his kingdom and the first thing he does is release the minister from jail.
He is grateful for the words of the minister as they now made sense to him. He was literally saved from becoming royal human kabab (शाही मनुष्य कबाब) because of the prior accident. He has one question for the minister though, what good happened to him as he ended up in rotting in jail for so many days. And the minister answers that had he gone with the king, the king would have been set free because of his finger but the minister who presumably had an injury-free body who have made a great sacrifice/meal. And thus the King had practically saved his life by throwing him in jail. In conclusion, EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A GOOD REASON.
Another version of the story if you need it:https://singaporechristian.com/2016/01/28/parable-of-the-king-who-lost-his-finger-story-with-a-moral-god-is-good-even-when-bad-things-happen-to-us/
In my humble opinion;
That is one of the most non-scalable parable/fable/story I have ever heard.
That is definitely a story made up to get a point across and so it is licensed to violate logic at times. However, violating the fundamental point of creating the story can be very perilous.
- Has anybody tried telling a martyred soldiers wife your husband’s death happened for a good reason? (Different from he gave up his life for a good cause)
- Has anybody told a parent who lost a child from a disease or accident that it is a good thing your child is no longer with you?
- Has anybody told a recently laid-off employee with a big family to support that it all happens for a good reason?
- Has anybody told somebody who suffered from a major heartbreak that it is good this was happening to them?
You can keep forming a billion variants of that question from something as trivial as losing their wallet to something as devasting as losing a loved one. It probably seems like I am questioning the very existence of God and his intentions just like the king. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I used too but have matured enough to come to terms with bad things as a way of life and if it was out of my control, there is no point brooding about it. However, If it is something I have the power to fix/change then so help me God.
I am just questioning the use of that statement as an excuse to mess with the person suffering’s grieving process. A lot of times, certain things are very irreplaceable, like a martyred father, husband, son, daughter, family, lover etc etc etc. It feels like an additional kick in the gut when you are already crumbled in a fetal position from the beating life just handed you.
Personally, I would just prefer a helping hand to hold, a firm shoulder to support and good-hearted companion with ideas on how to move forward, instead of hearing from people either how I deserved it and had it coming my way or that this was all part of God’s larger plan and he did it with my best intentions in mind. I feel that Jesus (for non-Christians, pick a God of your choice) is a chill guy and my best friend, and I have an open conversation with him in Hindi anywhere from in the shower, to the conference room, to before I bowl the first ball of my spell in cricket. None of the flamboyance some of us are expected to show with the kneeling and rolling.
Also, some of the more severe arguments and to a certain degree IMHO excuses have been;
- Who are you to question Gods plan? His creation, his friend/dost/thozha or at least that how I feel…
- You don’t know what the future has in store for you; Well neither do you, Thanks
- Your faith is weak; Well if asking questions shows my faith to be weak, then it must be weak and I must be stupid.
- A host of bible verses flung at me; let’s talk about it since you and I might be seeing things differently and by admission, it is not possible to follow the bible to the word.
- and a few others I will add here as I remember.
So finally here is the big question I have:
Is ‘Everything happens for a good reason’ the right outlook to be shoving down peoples throat after they just underwent suffering of any sort?