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Bad Things

October 26, 2011

The logical and most basic response to something bad happening is the realization that it happened for a reason.  There was a cause for the bad thing to happen.  From there, the smallness of the soul takes over, and you start dishing out blame for the imagined cause.  That gives you something to stand on, or at least something to lean on, in your time of trouble.  It’s someone else’s fault at first, your sister’s, or your friend’s, or that guy in front of you at the post office, his fault.  And then it’s your fault, but you’re not sure why.  Because you didn’t say grace for dinner last night?  Or because of that ladder you walked under once.  Maybe because you didn’t value the thing enough when you had it, so it had to be taken away.  There are a thousand guilty thoughts in your head waiting for just this moment to smother you.

When bad things happen, that’s really when the superstition and the religion comes out.  The reaction’s so common, so basic.  It still somehow isn’t helpful, though.  It doesn’t fix the problem.  You can’t bite back a few swear words or dirty thoughts and retroactively cause the bad thing to be undone.  It doesn’t work, you realize, because you’re applying it on the wrong end of the event.  We know that since there is a cause for the bad thing, since all things have a cause, there must be a way to avoid the cause, and the way to avoid the cause is probably what you weren’t practicing when you brought about the bad thing.  So you figure, there’s no way to undo what happened, but maybe if you never again do whatever it was you did then the bad thing will never happen again.

Is there a way to be scientific about that?  Some way to organize and categorize all the proper actions to avoid bad things?  Seems like someone should have written that down at some point in history since this idea is so common.  No one seems to have been successful at it, though.  The systems we have in place now don’t work, obviously, because bad things still happen (although that leads you to the question of whether you’re doing it right and can lead you down an endless spiral of guilt which, ironically, is full of bad things for you).  To make a new system would take a tremendous effort.  There are too many actions at play, most people say, and they give up on it.  They follow the golden rule for the least part, they try to eat healthy and exercise regularly.  The bad things will happen anyway, they say, and good enough is good enough.  Of course, that’s bogus.  There certainly must be a way to avoid the bad things because if there weren’t, the idea that you could avoid them wouldn’t still be around.

But has it worked to make a system?  No.  Will it work?  If you pose that question you have to answer that you don’t know.  But really, all the examples of bad things in the world lead to one resounding conclusion: it won’t ever work to make a systematic, categorical map of bad things and what causes them.  There are too many variables, too much unknown or hidden to the human mind.  So I’m left with the paradox that even though there must be a way to avoid the bad thing, to keep the bad thing from happening in the first place and maybe even to undo the bad thing that happened, it’s beyond my power to come up with that.  It’s beyond my power to save myself from the bad.  The bad is still given to me, though.  It affects me but I can’t affect it even though I should be able to.  That’s a tragedy.  Maybe I doubt the tragedy, maybe I think we as humans just haven’t been thorough enough in ordering our sequences of events, and the truth will plainly reveal itself with an ounce more cognitive effort.  But all the time I’d waiver in my doubt, between the dream of the order and the knowledge of my powerlessness.  I’d never be able to banish the tragedy, I’d just gloss it over for a while until it hits me all the more harder than before.

That thought would lead to nihilism if it hadn’t been proven that you can still affect some good in your life by following the golden rule, eating healthy and exercising regularly.

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