Snyder, George L Snyder, Lenore Snyder, God, ethics, morals, religion

The Elephant Speaks
One Man’s Elephant book II

He Died Too Young

            He was born HIV positive. All his life he had to be careful about injuries, sickness, and infections. Twenty years old and he was laying in a coffin. His sisters were crying. His mother told about how she became his mother when he was eighteen months old. His father, a quiet man, suffered privately. The pain showed on his face and there was a trace of moistness in his eyes. Why did this young man have to die? Why so young. Why did he have to suffer for actions committed before he was even born? Why did he have to suffer for actions committed by others? Why, God, did you give him Aids?

And, God speaks to me:

          “I do not give Aids. I give free will. Poor judgement leads to a lifestyle that causes this. I give freedom. I do not give disease.

            To say that the child inherits the sins of the parent implies that God did this. That implies that God placed a curse on an innocent unborn child. No! It also implies that it was the parent’s fault. No! We cannot blame one person. The blame has to fall on a series of person after person that carried bad judgements on and on for years. Each one of these could have broken the chain, but none did.

            Does the parent inflict the results of their sins on the child?

            That question is insufficient! It cannot be answered by a yes/no choice. It does not cover the good done by his parents. It does not cover the good done by the church he attended. It does not cover the good done by many others. No matter how much good is done, it seems that it only takes one evil act to create the pain. The good that was done for him was too late. The bad had already been done before he was born.

            The innocent suffer for whatever the guilty do. The entire world is affected by what you do. It does not matter how private is your behavior. It does affect everyone else in the world. It affects everything else in the world. All behavior, good or evil.

And God speaks to me:

            “If you throw a rock up into the air and stand where it comes down, do not be surprised if the results are unpleasant. You choose to throw the rock. You choose where to stand.

          If you throw a rock up into the air and someone else is standing where it comes down, I do not change the laws of physics to thwart your free will.

          If you see someone throwing rocks, think about where you choose to stand.

            Does it matter what the process is that gave this child Aids? Does it matter if it was the lifestyle of a blood donor, drug addict, or someone sexually promiscuous? Does it really matter? It was the lifestyle of someone. The lifestyles of many someones somewhere. The lifestyles that spread this disease from one person to another until an infant is born with a devastating disease.

- My freedom allows anything as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

- If I am the only one who is hurt by my behavior, it is OK.

- It doesn’t hurt anyone else!

- It is my body, and I will do what I please!

- I owe you nothing.

            It is obvious that in this case there was someone harmed. The unborn infant, the young man he became, his father and mother, his family and friends. But, is there a case where your behavior hurts no one? Is it possible to do anything without affecting anyone else? Can a butterfly flap his wings on the other side of the world without affecting you?

            All people, all things, are tied together. No matter what you think, you are not alone. Your actions, good or evil, do matter.

            Again there is the question of why bad things happen to innocent people. I do not believe God does this. I believe God allows. It is our responsibility to protect those who are weak, those who are innocent, those who cannot protect themselves. When we fail, an innocent suffers. When we fail, evil results. Not God’s fault, my fault. Not God’s fault, your fault. We all are responsible for improper behavior at some time. When we, as butterflies flap our wings, unaware and unconcerned of the repercussions of our actions, someone perhaps someone on the other side of the world suffers. Someone perhaps years later suffers. When we do not concern ourselves with God’s will, we violate God’s will. We violate God’s creation. God’s will is that we do no harm. God’s will is that we honor all others. God’s will is that we care for all of God’s creation. It is our responsibility.

            And is the pain over now that he is dead? No! Not by a long shot! His father still suffers. His mother still suffers. His family still suffers. His friends still suffer. Although I did not know him well, yes, I still suffer. Now that you know this story, you should also feel some of the pain. The acts of someone many years ago continue to cause pain and suffering.

            I am not claiming that this young man never had poor judgement himself. He was human. He did make mistakes. He did live a life with all the desires and temptations that come to all of us. He did have a life. But, he had a heavy cross to bear. A heavy cross that would have crushed many of us. Sometimes he found the burden of his disease too much. Sometimes he neglected, even avoided, his medicine. Sometimes he wanted to have a normal life as a normal person. Sometimes he did things that were dangerous because death did not seem to be worse than the life he had. You may say that now he no longer has that disease. He is now free. He no longer has to take that medicine that he learned to hate. He no longer has to take care in every movement, every action, everything he does.

            I do not want to accept that last concept.

          Who should fix this problem?


          What should be done?


          Is it your responsibility to try to do something?


          Is it the responsibility of science to find a cure?


          Is it the responsibility of the doctors to cure this disease?


          Is it the responsibility of the governments of the world to eradicate this disease?


          Are you refusing to accept your own responsibility?


          Whose responsibility is it to clean up the mess you make of God’s world?


          His mother once told me that she knowingly, lovingly accepted the burden of being his mother when he was only eighteen months old. What have you done to serve God?

Apply the previous questions to any disease, to any world problem. Or, to any problem no matter how minor. Now, think of things you did even years ago.

What good is still going on for your actions?

What pain is still going on for your actions?

Or, maybe your failure to act?

This chapter dedicated to R.E. who died too young.

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