Meant To Be?
"... may your god go with you”
- Dave Allen
Last week's walk on the edge of controversy and the resulting comments were so much fun that I’ve decided to dive into another usually taboo topic. Politics? Nah, makes me too angry. I know! Let's talk about religion!
But before I move on, I feel that a wee preamble is in order. My idea of controversy very firmly does not include disrespecting other people's beliefs - what can I say, I am both Danish and Canadian and thus tend to implode in a paroxysm of politeness at the slightest provocation. I fully respect faith and your right to believe in whatever you wish, be it the Christian God, Allah, Shiva, the Goddess or a purple polkadotted platypus.
Anyway, back on track. You all know that I unashamedly adore pretty much any aspect of reality shows, but there is one thing that annoys me well past a zombie eye roll and right into incoherent sputtering and that's when a contestant starts asking God to help them win a challenge. Like last week on Big Brother 8 when Jameka opined that not only did God intend for her to play for Jen in a challenge (I'm keeping this as generic as possible in order not to annoy/confuse/bore those of you who are not transfixed by the goings-on in the hamster cage) but that The Guy Upstairs had already chosen the winner of the $500,000 and that contestants were merely acting out their parts in the script. I am pretty sure that if there is a God, he/she/it has better things to do than assisting someone to win money in a game where the purpose is to backstab and manipulate other contestants. For instance, there's the Sudan. And the floods in Bangladesh. And Britain. Etc.
I've always had problems with the idea of preordination. I can't tell you how many times I've had strangers inform me that God had a reason for putting me in a wheelchair and aside from the fact that I think it's rude to impose your ideas about God on someone whose belief system is unknown to you (unless invited to do so), I've had arthritis since I was four and I find it impossible to believe that a benevolent deity would do something that nasty to a child. (As an aside, those strangers have all been able-bodied and sometimes I wonder if that statement was intended to comfort me - the rant regarding the gall assuming I need comforting is for another day - or to make themselves feel comfortable when facing The Cripple). I've read books written by people who firmly believe that God gave them their disability for a specific reason, usually helping others in similar situations, and whereas I respect that belief - after all, they have the disability and therefore the right to approach it any way they see fit - I can't quite get behind the idea. The reality of disease and disability is so often so awful and the divine energy in which I believe is not a sadistic shit. But I think I might be getting sidetracked.
Iguess it's the existential issue - looking for meaning in a life and a world that can be randomly brutal and unfair. A couple of months ago, someone asked me about meaning - what it is, where it comes from and why seek meaning in the first place - and I guess this long-winded, meandering post is an answer. Fuzzy and not quite fully grown yet, it's the only answer I have so far.
I've had this conversation before many times, especially in conversations with people who are struggling with illness or other trauma - a bolt of destruction laying waste to your body and/or your life naturally leads to an instinctive desire for knowing why. Me, I've reached the point where the best reason I can come up with is accident, genetics or the ever-popular “shit happens”. But just because I don't believe that there is a divine meaning to say, my wrecked joints, doesn't mean that you can't create meaning. Maybe it's a crutch. Maybe there's no reason for anything, maybe everything is random, but if it is, I would rather make my life have meaning and mean something instead of not. It’s not meant to be, but I make it meaningful.
And so, given that my life, who I am is the sum total of everything about me, I choose to give my disability meaning, to use it and what it’s taught me to (hopefully) grow and if I can, be a force for good. Whether the intent, the nudge that drives me to do so comes from a source divine or from within myself is ultimately irrelevant - the end result is the same.