virus: A few thoughts on cruelty (was: Are we the gods of Nature?)
Mon, 15 Feb 1999 20:40:09 EST

In a message dated 2/12/99 8:56:38 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< Bobby G <----------- not burning any ants...

....something bigger just might come along.>>

I don't see any reason that the Bigger Thing that comes along is going to care whether you burned ants or not. When I was a younger and crueler child, I don't think I care a whit about the moral virtues of the bugs that I burned. BTW, I found that a cosmetic magnifying mirror of my mother's was even more powerful than a magnifying glass.

Fortunately some adults yelled at me when I started throwing rocks at the dog next door. And now as an adult myself, I always have to yell at this neighborhood kid who does these fatal voodoo things to baby ducklings in the park. That last time, I pulled out this booming crazed Satanic sounding voice that basically called the kid a murderer. It was a small exercise in effective communication, though rather large from his perspective.

Boy did he run! and I haven't seen him since. I probably developed that
"Satan voice" when I was torturing bugs as kid myself. If I was more
mystically minded, I might say it was my "karma" being played out. I feel good that I did it and saved other baby ducks from gruesome torture. But I must confess that I felt a little extra kick out of the power of terrifying the little evil brat with my voice alone. Heck, it was even a little disturbing to my wife who was nearby when I did it. I later jokingly told her, "Hey, I got my point across, didn't I?" Maybe this piece of Karma is still playing out.

Even for all my bug burning ways, I was never likewise burned, and that little brat wasn't tortured to death either, though he may have had a nightmare or two. Somehow or another we learn, though it isn't necessarily through mathematically reciprocal meaningful threats from the next bigger thing that may come along.

We all need meaning, and if you are careful you may find the meaning that you need. Don't look for too much meaning, because it may not be there, or it may not be on your terms. Only look for the meaning that you need, and don't get
"meaning" greedy, otherwise you may slip into irrationality and destroy that
little that you gathered in the first place.

I used to get all worried about the meaning of all the senseless suffering in the world. Then I stumbled upon the truth that sometimes things really suck for no particuarly good reason. That is what grief is for. If we just let it run its course and not try to short circuit it all the time with supernatural
"meanings", usually we feel ok afterwards. Maybe not fantastic, but ok and
ready for the next thing. We humans are remarkably resilient animals that way. Though it didn't make me feel fantastic about the situation, it certainly has made life more sensible to understand that.