I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both. Ecclesiastes 2, verses 13 and 14.
John D. Rockefeller and John Smith. The last Ottoman Sultan and the last Ottoman grandmother. Theodore Seuss and Theodore Bundy (yes, I know that’s a macabre comparison). William McKinley and his opponent William Jennings Bryan.
What’s the connection? They’re all dead. Rich and poor alike, the same fate overtook them all.
I get into some pretty heated discussions with friends online about all things political. This too is meaningless…but that isn’t the point. With one particular friend, we’re constantly discussing rich versus poor. My friend, who has worked very hard all his life to live a hard life and earn all he owns is constantly spouting envy of the rich. He believes that the power of one side is only on the side of the rich while the other side is clearly on the side of the poor. I disagree, usually contending that I don’t really much care whether the rich get richer or not so long as government doesn’t get in my or his way of attaining what ‘happiness’ we can.
This too is meaningless because rich and poor will succumb to the same fate. Neither riches nor poverty are virtue, and even if they were, death would await either one.
In a way, these verses are a realization of the hopeless nature of sinful man. Whether we are Einstein the physicist or Einstein the bagel guy, life is a one-way death trip. Our inheritance from our great-whatever grandfather, Adam, is death. That’s obviously what the verse is saying: death awaits us all.
So why not just live it up? I mean, smoke a little weed or do a little blow? Sow a few wild oats!
You know the reason.
Would you really want to stand in front of your maker and tell him that was the best you could do with your gifts? Party hard and sleep it off every day? Is that all there is, and are you the wise man or the fool for living so? You do know that the same fate awaits the partier as the pope, and the guy who spends all day working in front of a computer will meet his maker the same as the guy who spends all his days on the beach.
What’s more, have you considered the outcome of taking these humanist thoughts to their logical conclusion? If human wisdom and folly are no better than each other, what’s the point? Sure, using Pascal’s Gambit we can reason that an existence without belief in God is meaningless but I’m talking about a meaning beyond logic. Logic is a construct to understand what we don’t understand. I’m talking about the soul, the existential stuff of being alive, of being human. Even an atheist or humanist FEELS beyond just what their physical senses relay. That’s the soul in motion. Have you considered the outcome to the soul from relying only on humanist thinking? Every tyrant in history has.
Yesterday, I heard an interview with Penn Jillette. You know: Penn & Teller. He’s an atheist and a libertarian, and he’s been in the news this week for a commentary (a rant, actually) he recently made. In the interview, he wasn’t shrill or screaming or unreasonable in any way. In fact, his thinking and his reasons made perfect sense. They were very tempting. As regards his ‘faith’ they were also completely vacant, devoid of hope. Penn Jillette is headed for the same human destiny as Billy Graham.
And that’s the same fate that awaits the Rockefellers and the Smiths, those Theodores, McKinley and Bryan and the others. They met theirs already; they already transitioned through death. It’s the same fate that awaits Barry Manilow and Barry Obama, as well as you and me. We’re all human and we’re all due a death for the wrongs we’ve done. With God living in your heart, thankfully that’s merely the gateway to something really meaningful.