Sunday, October 27, 2013

Winning the Lottery

I had always known that I had been the recipient of many fortunate things in my life, particularly as I ventured out and saw what others did not have in the world. But it wasn't until the eve of the new millennium that I put it all together realizing I had hit the lottery a million times over. I was doing a site visit at a small school a quarter of a mile or so from the shores of Lake Victoria in Northwest Tanzania. Oddly enough, it was after watching a Peace Corps volunteer do a biology lesson with a small class of sixteen year old girls. It covered reproduction at the cellular level, and the sudden epiphany that followed was probably about fifteen years late. That single thought refocused my life to that point, my ideas about my children, and my drive for the future. One little thought - one little sperm cell.......
I had never before considered the sheer impossibility of my existence. I suppose I naively thought that I was somehow in  some queue in my mother's womb waiting for the next fertilization cycle. It had never occurred to me that I was the by product of one frenetic sperm cell hitting one particular egg at a given moment. Any other combination and I don't exist. That traveller turns the wrong way and someone else is writing a blog somewhere else in the world at this moment. If something had been different in that day and my parents delayed their romantic tryst even momentarily, this post isn't here. Not to beleaguer the point too much, but birth is the first lottery win, probably the most improbable.
Likewise, I supposed, the creation of my two daughters was equally miraculous given I couldn't imagine wanting them to be anyone, anything other than they are. Oddly, this second thought put a permanent damper on my fantasy life (no, not that kind). I no longer wanted a time machine, realizing that if I would go back and change anything at all in my life, the two wonderful collisions that produced my beautiful daughters likely would not have happened. The moments, minutes, hours I might have indulged in contemplating varied previous realities have been redirected to proactive, future oriented capital. Two little sperm cells.......
If all that weren't enough, I was born a white male in the United States of America with good health, a decent intellect, and an innate desire to help people. No odds maker could calculate this sort of probability. And no decent man or woman could ever tally the debt I owe for this fortune, the incredible blessings I have incurred and endured in my own unthankful way. I haven't bought a lottery ticket since that day fourteen years ago, haven't needed to - any result would have been silly and not too particularly seemly.
I have a lot to account for, preferring that choice of words over a lot to be thankful for. In the expanse of the universe (will stop there for perspective only) I am an incalculable presence with a lot of work to do, a lot of work to do. It is no burden, only recompense; for even more recently I have learned to balance those infinity long odds with the faith that dissipates the randomness and senselessness of the unfathomable sequences. There is an account due, and I have realized to whom. My final blessing is my capacity to do so by relentlessly working to even the odds around me for others, in small yet meaningful ways. I am not alone with this, and each day I meet more people who have learned these lessons and are working on their own ledger sheets.
I am lucky.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

With Respect to My Christian Friends Who Support Israel

First off, I am not an expert in Israeli politics or culture, but then again, neither are you. I am not an expert on Christian doctrine and I concede that you might be. However, I don't understand where you have found the justification in your two Testaments to support a nation unilaterally when you fail so miserably (as do most of us) to do so in your own. To watch you, I would think you hate some of the men and women who lead this country and you would do what you could to take them out of power. Once again, this is not unique to you in this country. You are critical, you exercise your democratic responsibilities, and you judge the politicians around you justly, based on your faith and convictions. But you have it your mind (maybe not consciously) that Israel must exist, and your intellect and sense of values seems to stop there, or at least in St. Croix (technically the easternmost point of the USA). For you also seem to be oblivious to the diverse nature of the entity you support unconditionally. Israel has had conservative, somewhat liberal, and even socialist leaders; it has been led by great thinkers and courageous men, and it has been led by cowards and even rapists; it has stood up for itself valiently at times and it has victimized men, women, and children in other times. You don't seem to be aware or to care. From the outside it looks as if you need this "thing" to exist and that you are willing to overlook monstrous acts and decades of deprivation to tuck your faith in to bed comfortably each night. I personally do not believe it is that simple, but you sorely mystify me when your sensibilities and logic disappear so apparently conveniently. I don't recall any verse in any holy book that says "defend Israel in any form it takes, for any action it puts forth, with closed eyes and hardened hearts." I do not want this nation tossed into the sea or wiped from the earth. I do believe it can exist and flourish without the carte blanche you would afford no other government on earth. I once heard Jerry Falwell encourage Christians to purchase Krugerrands to support the White regime in South Africa fearing Apartheid would be replaced by a Godless socialism. If you don't give the situation in Israel/Palestine the same critical examination you give your own country, I believe you are promoting yet another form of Apartheid, and I am not sure which Prophet you would need to quote to support yourself.