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6/01/2011

Milky Way's Backpack

Bad Fate, Misbehaving

Today, I have a question. It's the eternal question. It's not every day you ask those kinds of things! The question is: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen at all? It may seem mind-boggling at first, but if you think about it, there is an answer. It's one of those mysteries that can be resolved. Don't worry. The thing is, if you really want to know, you first of all have to agree that you will not immediately reject the answer, even if it seems to be profane and deeply underwhelming. Is there ever such a thing as an exciting answer? We'll find out. So let's sherlock, shall we?

Good People, Gandhi and such...

The key to solving almost every philosophical problem is to break it down into its basic elements. So let's start up with morals. The question itself is somewhat religiously charged. And the concept of deserving-undeserving floats around in there somewhere. It's a dangerous one and in itself, highly immoral if you think about it's repercussions. But anyhow, let's get on with our quest for today.

It seems it always starts with basic definitions. The definitions themselves are half the answer most of the times. So, it all comes down to defining good, and bad and maybe happen. Yes we will.

Bad Things - Good People.

Mahatma Gandhi - Good. Adolf Hitler - Bad. Agreed? Swell.
The intention to do something good: Good?
Let's say you feel the need to take action to save your family from a possible threat. Good intention! Let's say this idea includes killing someone. Let's make this person a mass murderer. The intention is still good, but the execution is rather bad? Or does a good intention overweigh the outcome? Isn't it bad at all? Does the end really justify the means? Yes and No.

You see, we may have some disagreement there already. Unfortunately there's nothing we can do to resolve it. It's alright, as long as we are aware of the differences.

There can't be a universal consensus on what is good and bad, because these views are just preferences, without any claims on truth. No truth, just opinions! Great! But it also means that there is no such a thing as a right and a wrong position! Another thing we cannot define universally, stink! Zero-g makes us very uncomfortable.

Poor Milky Way's Back

We have to unroll it from the other side then. We still don't know why bad things happen to good people. Good people, it's a dangerous definition. Who can say what is a good or a bad quality in people?

In a universal context, everyone does all kinds of things, good and bad. Every single person is guilty of living, thereby destroying the environment, using resources and air and space in the process. The sole fact that we live is a huge bad thing, happening to mother earth, completely undeserved! Or isn't it? Didn't she herself cause the consequences in being extra fertile and inviting, so that we humans had no choice but to come into existence? Hah!

Take solace in the fact that poor mother earth may be a huge drain on the galaxy, always hanging around that self-centered sun, in the meantime using up precious spacetime in the solar system. Those two are useless, Milky Way sighs heavily. Against it's better judgement, Milky Way still carries those two around in his backpack! Now, if that's not true altruism! Maybe not. Cosmos is convinced, that Milky Way may have some serious brain damage, because it carries those two idiots around and therefore Cosmos wants to vote him off the island. Luckily, another unknown authority votet against it...

Everybody seems to be a drain on someone else in some way or another, regardless of his level of awareness. The fact that we live creates consequences. We cannot always be aware of them. In fact, it's impossible to know all of them, in a larger scale. For example, how could we possibly know what our existence means for other species, especially the ones we never met. We are incapable of seeing the mere potential of what's not directly in front of our nose. And furthermore, we humans are mono-causal thinkers. We don't see what's up ahead two corners. That's why we cannot be held responsible, in any cosmic scale. Brain space is limited. Good intention or bad, it doesn't matter. Mother Hitler may have had good intentions while making love to her husband.
Bad outcome, nonetheless.

42 Reasons to Keep on Asking

So back to the question: Why do bad things happen to good people. As far as I am concerned we eliminated the concept of good and bad, and the question that remains is: Why do things happen? Answer: It's basic physics, no moral pun. Cause and effect. It's a rather unsatisfying answer. But there's more meat to it than you might think. How about that initial cause that had the most giant effect imaginable. The big one. The big bang! Physics, help?!

So if you think about it, the real question, the absolute and eternal question, it is still out there, waiting to be resolved and most importantly, ultimately inserted into our fleeting brains. I hope, I'll see the day when it fits.