Everything Pedde

   S J Pedde Canada   S.J. Pedde

We Are All Cousins

Dear Zachary:

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 to heaven?”

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 from them."

“Then that means that we are all related, doesn’t it Daddy?”

"Yes, son, I suppose it does."

“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 to it.”

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.