Monday, March 21, 2011

Feeling philosophical today: A lesson in humility

Why? So often I have asked why things happen or don’t happen as I would like. I know I have asked that question from time to time – especially when things don’t go as I would like them to, or had expected them to.

Why did I get Type 1 diabetes at age 3? Why did I wind up with Celiac? Isn’t Type 1 diabetes challenging enough? Do I need more challenges? Okay, yeah, I know the science behind it. But that’s not what I’m asking.

What I’m really asking is: Why, God, why?

And then there’s the recent global why: Why Sendai, Japan? Why a tsunami and an earthquake? Why do some people die, while others suffer, and others survive?

I can take it further of course: Why do we exist? Why is the Earth round and the sky blue? Why do the tides ebb and flow?

Sure, we could start to talk about gravity to explain quite a bit of those questions, but then why does gravity exist? Do people die randomly or is there a greater design behind it? We could talk about the ring of fire and how plates of land deep within the Earth’s surface rub against each other which causes an earthquake. Well, then why are they there?

The recent global events in Japan have reminded me that our knowledge of science has come a long way, but true understanding can only go so far. There's much for us to learn, and much more that we may never learn. Because it's out of our hands.

Any answers we give to the really big "why questions" are pure conjecture. Any belief system we espouse is great for finding comfort and solace – especially when we’re faced with life’s really tough questions. But in reality, we really don’t know the answers.

I am learning this week that all conjecture is really a lesson in humility.

So rather than ask why, perhaps the better question to ask is: What lesson can we learn?

The recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor disasters in Japan are humbling. They remind me of how out of control we really are. Many times we humans try to fool ourselves into thinking that we have more control than we do – through scientific research, hypothesis, or even conjecture into the wisdom of God.

But in reality, we know nothing. The best we can do is ask questions and learn lessons.

We can build higher towers, lengthier walls, bigger dams, and nature will in turn create an even bigger flood. The Earth is reminding us that we are visitors here, and nature is teaching us a lesson in humility. Science has come a long way over the years, and I am grateful for all of the medical advances out there. But in reality, our understanding of science pales in comparison to the efficiency, exactness, and vast powers of nature.

I don’t know why nature chose me to be diabetic. I also don’t know why I wasn’t chosen for something else. All I can do is ask: What lessons can I learn? Diabetes is, as are all of life’s challenges, a life-long lesson in humility, inquiry, and learning.

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