First, today’s contest. Who or what was Oscar Wilde referring to when he described “the unspeakable in hot pursuit of the inedible?”
The first to answer this correctly will win the following prize, which is going to be a pilot of a feature I intend to offer on this blog post “pub date” as we say in the business: “Ask the Mad CEO” This means you can ask me any workplace related question, and, rather than obfuscate as we do in this town (as in when a witness is before a Congressional Inquiry Panel, offering the standard response: “Uh, I don’t recall….”) I will answer it forthrightly, to the best of my ability.
Now, to the question: Is there a God?
Consider this: the match struck by our Tunisian microentrepreneur, Mr. Bouazizi, is now altering the political landscape of the entire middle east. The future is uncertain, but one thing is very clear: we aren’t going back to the past.
Events unfolding in Egypt have blown everything else off CNN, but this does not mean newsworthy events are still unfolding elsewhere. I spoke to a microfinance leader from Tunisia today, and this is what she said: “We will have a new government. We will have elections in six months. It could result in a democratic government, and an excellent environment for microfinance. In the past, the government officials would call me up: “Why are you making loans to these women in the markets? Why don’t you do something ‘nice’ with them?”
“Then again,” she said, “if the fundamentalists come to power…..”
I confirmed that I was correct in my guessessment that bribes — and his refusal to pay them — had been at the center of the altercation which claimed Bouazizi’s life.
I have struggled with the concept of an APB (All Powerful Being) all my life, accumulating evidence in favor and against. In favor, the three times in my life I actually prayed to “Him”, I got immediate and satisfactory results. The first time was when I was about 8 years old. Every month or so, I would be incapacitated by unbearable abdominal pain. My parents were very hands off in the Wasp tradition and not the kind to rush me to the doctor (money), so when the pain struck I took to bed and fended for myself until it subsided.
But it always returned. One time, when it was particularly excruciating, I prayed to God to make it stop. I may have just been Sunday School inspired faith self-healing, but it worked.
As I grew older, however, and my knowledge of how the world worked deepened, I found it much harder to maintain that early faith. I developed, instead, my own explanation for the horrible things that occurred throughout history. I definitely bought into the idea that the Devil and God were both at work in the world. But instead of being in opposition to each other, I began to suspect they had a more symbiotic, CEO-COO type relationship.
Take the American Civil War, for example. I could imagine that before that terrible conflict which caused so much suffering and claimed so many lives, God and Beelzebub had a conversation something like this:
God: “Yo, Bee.”
Devil: “’Sup, G-Dog?”
God: “Got a real “goody” for you.”
Devil: “Dish it, Everywhereman.”
God: “I’m so done with this slavery thing. Humanity’s gotta to raise its game.”
Devil: “Sure you’ve thought this through? Who’s going to build all those temples to you?”
God: “Cat named Archimedes. Just coming down the birth canal, as we speak. Check him out.”
Devil: “I feel ya. So, you got that covered. How do you thinkin’ you want this to go down?”
God: “And I have you as my COO……why?”
Devil: (chuckling) “Just kiddin’, boss. Just call me ‘The Devil with the Details’. Do a little civil war, burn a few cities, slaughtering of thousands…”
G: “Yeah, whatever. Just get it done, a’ight?”
One thing I do believe in for certain is an afterlife. I don’t think it will be the Dantean version, much less what I would call the “hard faith” versions, wherein even if you’ve made it through life without harming anyone or doing evil, you still burn if you don’t take the oath. If that turns out to be the case, boy, am I going to be sorry I didn’t go to church more often. But as Tony Soprano would say, at this point, Whaddayagonnado?
My own hypothesis is that if there a “hell”, it will be having to coexist for all eternity with everyone we have wronged on earth. “Oh, Shit, here he comes again, that guy I cut off trying to make the red light.” That kind of thing. Of course for mass murderers like Hitler, Stalin and Atila the Hun, it would be a lot more uncomfortable.
Heaven, of course, will be getting to spend all eternity with the people whom we either knowingly or unknowingly helped.
I am convinced of the afterlife because one of my friend, who drank himself to death, sadly, appeared to me in a dream several days later. He didn’t say anything. He just stood there, looking very, very somber.
It was days later that I realized what he was ‘saying’ to me: “Look after my son.”
My wife, Sweet Lorraine, can see across bent time. She’s got what they call “The Shining”. She has precognitive dreams. She foresees babies being born, and, yes, people dying.
I don’t think I mentioned this, but when my boss, Mike Hammer, told me he was going down to El Salvador for that fateful meeting, I told him I would go with him. He refused, saying we both did not need to risk our lives. When I told Lorraine about it, she just stood in front of me, training her dark, ego leveling gaze on me. “You’re not going,” she said.
Since I go to a lot of dangerous places, take a lot of risks, I need some kind of faith that, if I’m still being useful on this earth, I am going to be protected. Maybe is where Lorraine comes in. I told if she ever gets that Shining feeling before I’m about to go on a trip, to please let me know.