Those who regularly read this column know I mine weekly reporting blurbs to dig up what I consider to be entertaining stuff — at least to me. This week’s news was horrible.
The Boston bombing has glued me to news streams on TV and my computer. As technically backward as I am, I’ve even tried following developments on my cell phone.
When mindless evil rears its ugly head, I can’t muster up a single molecule of concern or consideration for those who summoned that beast. I want them removed from the gene pool and don’t care a whit about "reasons" or "motives."
I’ve never had religious leanings, choosing to believe the universe was way too big for a carbon speck like me to matter one way or the other. In my eyes, the creation of religions must have been a function of evolving intelligence.
Once humans became capable of abstract thought, we ceased having to live only in the present and branched forward and backward, into the future and past. I’ve always supposed that being able to substitute identities with deceased or injured fellow humans led inexorably to "invention" of a force for shelter from life’s tribulations.
That’s a lot of words that ask a simple question: Did God create us or did we create God?
Of course without faith it may never be knowable to me, but when something so terrible as the Boston thing happens, my core assumptions are shaken. If an absolute manifestation of cosmic "good" doesn’t exist, then by logical extension neither can cosmic "evil."
Well, by any measure I can imagine terrorism that kills and maims innocent kids is pure evil. So if I accept that as a truth, then there’s no way around accepting the existence of counterbalancing pure "good," the foundation of so many faiths.
Is Otis Gardner getting religion? No, but looking at things through an accountant’s eyes, we live in a very big balance sheet. The cosmos appeared from nothing, so all of its components must eventually total to zero.
If I follow that thread into my personal life, it requires depths of evil have to be offset by heights of good. It’s the yin and yang, debit and credit of existence.
I’m deeply sorry for the innocent people who were knocked out of wonderful lives without rhyme or reason and to no purpose other than the creation of pain. That’s pure evil by any measure.
I want to say I’ll pray for those folks, but that seems a bit two-faced given my history of rejecting any hint of metaphysics in my world. Besides injuring people in Boston, those bombers also blew away some of my smugness.
Maybe I’ll turn inward and visit my soul, if I can find it.
Otis Gardner’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.