For answers, look toward the sky |

For answers, look toward the sky

The world mourned last weekend for the crew and families of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The newspapers featured a haunting picture of a charred space helmet found resting in a Texas field amongst the miles of scattered debris.

The mountain town where I call home also grieved last weekend over the death of a dishwasher named Kenny Dogg.

Both Doggie and the Shuttle crew died doing what they loved, but other than that, they had little in common – that is until now.

Now, both Kenny and the shuttle crew know what the rest of us can only guess at. They know what is next. While we the living pray, preach and speculate, Kenny Dogg and the crew know whether God is reality or invention.

We call ourselves a spiritual nation. Our politicians, priests and pastors pontificate on the steadfast faith of our country and its people.

They quote the Bible and offer divine direction as justification for laws and morals. Despite all the pious posturing, we often behave like a nation of agnostics. Not only do we as a nation and as individuals frequently act with a heavy-handed selfishness, but we also mourn our dead with the grief of people with shaken faith.

If we truly believed what we preached, death would be a celebration. If we were hardened in our spiritual convictions, we would envy those who have taken the next step.

“Why is it we rejoice at a birth yet grieve at a funeral? Is it because we are not the person involved?” So asked Mark Twain.

I met a woman at Kenny Dogg’s funeral. She was a true believer. When I asked her if she was 100 percent convinced that this life was simply a step rather than a conclusion, she said she was. When I asked what made her so sure, she quoted the Bible. When I asked her to put it in her own words, she could not.

If I were to lay odds on it, I would say I’m 90 percent convinced that there is more to this world than meets the eye. I’m not sure if it’s heaven, reincarnation, nirvana, nothingness or the Koran’s promise of 70 virgins if you die in battle.

If any of the above mentioned options are true, then everything makes sense. If that is the case, I can accept the evil of war, a child’s death, the suffering of innocents and the random catastrophes of life. If I were not just 90 percent, but totally convinced that a child with cancer will play pain-free in heaven for eternity, I’d feel much worthier of my own good health.

I’m jealous of that gal at Kenny Dogg’s memorial. Whether she is correct or delusional, I admire her strength of conviction. I wish I could read words written 2,000 years ago and be assured; I cannot. The best I can do is hope, and yes pray, that one or all the spiritual dogmas is more than just a human pleading for answers.

“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” So said Voltaire.

I guess it just comes down to faith. The ability to believe without proof.

I’m grateful for the faith I have. I only wish I believed with a total conviction. There is much more comfort in certitude than doubt. Whether you quote Twain, Voltaire or the Bible, it is just the words of smart dead people. Though profound and inspirational, words can only go so far to numb the pain of random tragedy.

If you were to ask parents what dreams they have for their children’s futures, most would not wish for them a career in dishwashing. Most would prefer to see them on television walking towards the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. That’s a parent’s bias. Both the shuttle crew and the dishwasher known as Kenny Dogg have reached the same destination, though by much different paths, and each knows for certain what the rest of us can only guess S


Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KYSL radio, and read in several mountain publications. He lives in Breckenridge.

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