March 4, 2012

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The following is an essay from A Misunderstood God. It seemed appropriate in the wake of yet another series of devastating late-winter, early-spring tornadoes that periodically afflict portions of the midwest and south.
Some questions can’t be answered. Like the time I was home on leave after my tour in Vietnam and I went to the funeral of a local boy who had been killed in action and his mother asked me why I was alive and her boy was dead.
Or maybe you have just watched your house and your neighbor’s house and your whole damn town get wiped out by a tornado, and you are sitting there amidst the debris field of your life wondering why of all the places in the world that tornado had to touch down right on top of you.
This gets to the larger question of why bad things happen to good people, what Lewis Mumford called "the accidental malice of the universe." Another question without an answer, at least none that satisfies.
I could have told that young man’s mother that there really was no reason at all why I lived and her boy died. I was just a little lucky; he was a little unlucky. Just like the guy across the street whose house was spared while his neighbor’s house was reduced to a splintered rubble pile.
They will sit there, looking at each other across the street and wonder what the difference was. But on that one, God seems to have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, so we are left to fill in our own blanks. Maybe that is the answer.

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