“The Big Question”
Augustus Pompous Smedley and his faithful but suffering wife, Maudy Bob, journeyed to the “high” country of Colorado over this Christmas weekend and mixed it up with an assortment of relatives and a batch of the relatives’ relatives. For four days, it was a hug here, a shallow “ Hi, how are you?” there, and an occasional but genuine “Tell me what’s really going on in your life” chat.
Once away from this people scrum, Smedley, as is his wont, pondered the variety of what makes these individuals tick, what is their take on life, and what drummer do they march to. For most of these folks, this is a subject that is usually not made directly available to a nosy octengenarian like A.P. Smedley, so he fashioned an email questionairre/survey designed to learn their true inside story. This, of course, will only work if the survey is returned and the odds of this happening are slim to none once the recipient identifies the sender as “Smedley.” But Smedley pushes on in hope of doing someone, somehow, some good.
In launching such a touchy survey, some might wonder if Smedley has an ulterior motive, either lovingly paternal or, more likely, a self-glorifying one like some TV evangelist. Smedley claims not – only that he is truly concerned for the well being of these precious people. He believes that they might benefit from learning of the consequences he experienced from the two systems he followed over his eighty plus years. One – the first- was destructive; the second and current (and for sure the last) was and is rewarding to himself and others. Indeed, each system was tested a minimum of forty years, so that the validity of the results can be taken as quite reliable to an open mind.
Smedley’s survey is quite simple as it focuses in on the only two possible answers a person can choose for life’s pre-eminent Big Question as stated several ways below:
“Who or what is the AUTHORITY that guides the way you live, the choices you make?
Whose drum do you march to? Yours or Another?
Is there someone bigger than you in life that you need to heed? Or are you the final authority, needing no guidance or instruction?”
If your answer is “You” – that you are the controlling authority in your life, then you chose the answer I lived by for the first forty-four years of my life. In effect, I was God. I had all the answers. I did not need to live by any other truth than my own. There was no other God but me. If I did wrong, I could find a million reasons to justify it and thus absolve myself. I deserved to eat all the tasty but forbidden fruit and there was no one to tell me differently. Self was King! Pleasing Self was my purpose in life!
For me there was no God, no heaven nor hell, not even a spirit holding tank for the dead. Life had no purpose. Man developed by chance out of a random cosmic explosion with no meaning. Evolution was my religion. Psychology was my book of received wisdom. Materialism and pleasure were my passions. Man was just another animal, no soul, no spirit. Death was the end of existence. Eat, drink, and be merry for there is no tomorrow was my song.
Perhaps you think I am over-stating the depth of my guiding principles. I am not. I went out of my way to ridicule people with faith in “God” or in anything else. I hammered and disparaged the Bible as a bunch of fables written by monks in the 13th Century. I discouraged my wife and three children from pursuing a different path than my own. My temple was the saloon. My sacrificial wine was gin. My priests were fellow barflies. I was my own confessor and I never failed at my job.
How do you evaluate a belief system? By its fruit. My fruit was rotten, poisonious, harmful and destructive to not only me but to the most important and precious people in my life: my family, my wife and three children. “You” is the worst possible answer to the “Big Question!”
Next week: PART II of Smedley’s Survey