We Are All Cousins
When you were four years
old, you and Mommy and I were walking along the road in the village where
we live, and you asked me: “Daddy, has anyone who is alive today ever been
I was surprised to hear such a question, and answered that in order to go to heaven, if such a place existed, one would have to die first. “If no-one alive today has been there, then how do we know there is a heaven?” was your rejoinder. Hmmm. How, indeed.
I grew up in a very
religious household. I remember asking myself many of the same questions
that you are asking me now. I tried asking my Mom and Dad first, but I always
got chapter and verse where it said so in the bible, and that’s not what
I needed. I wanted irrefutable proof or at least a convincing argument
that I could understand. I’m glad that you ask me these questions, because
it is a lot easier to make sense of the world with a little help from someone
who has been around for a while.
More recently, you asked
me if everyone alive today came from the first man and woman on earth.
“You mean Adam and Eve?” I asked. You nodded in the affirmative and I said
"Yes, if you believe the Bible, God created heaven and earth and everything
in it, including Adam and Eve. Then yes, everyone alive today did come
“Then that means that
we are all related, doesn’t it Daddy?”
"Yes, son, I suppose
“If we’re all relatives,
Daddy, then how come we’re all mean to each other, and have wars and things?”
"You know, Zachary,
I've been asking myself those very same questions since I was your age and
the simple answer is I don’t know, son, I just don’t know."
I have often asked myself,
if there is a God, why there is sickness and suffering. Why do so many good
people die so young. Why is there so much violence. And almost above all,
wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all weren’t so damn stupid
and refused to learn the lessons of history?
Many other people, over
thousands of years, have asked themselves the same questions. In some
ways, life on earth has improved dramatically over the years. In other
ways it seems that we are going backwards. There are still wars going on
all over the world. People still hate each other because they look different
or worship a different God. Many people have appallingly bad manners. Others
think that instead of accepting responsibility for themselves, someone
else should protect them, even from their own foolishness.
There are so many laws, thousands of pages of them, at every level of government. Many of us break some laws daily and aren’t even aware of it. If we all behaved reasonably and responsibly, we wouldn’t need so many laws, so much government, so many taxes. You asked me once: what, exactly, is government? The best I could do at the time was to say that it was a bunch of people bossing us around.
Not everyone thinks
of government so negatively. Many people think of governments more charitably
than I do. But that’s the way I feel. Governments are a bunch of people
bossing us around, spending way too much of our money, and interfering in
virtually every aspect of our lives. So far, we still live in a relatively
free country, and I can say what I wish without going to jail. I remember
telling you, Zachary, about my own Dad’s experiences in Communist Russia
and Nazi Germany where such freedom simply didn’t exist. So I guess things
could always be worse and we should be thankful for what we have here.
So. Clean your room,
son. Help clear the dinner table. Hang up your clothes. Be polite
to your parents and everyone else. Help those genuinely in need of your
help. Pay attention in school and respect your teachers. Learn, learn,
learn. Grow up to be healthy and wise, and find a job that you love, even
if it doesn’t pay as much as you like. Realize that you can have fun without
drugs or alcohol. Life is what you make it. And like I always tell you
when you start to complain about something: “Life is tough, son. Get used
Do you want to know
the truth, Zachary? I don’t have any answers, only more questions. I know
you probably don’t want to think about my eventual demise, but I have jokingly
told your Mom that when I die, and if she should still happen to be around,
she should put the following inscription on my headstone: “No more “whys.”
I think that just about
sums it up.