“You remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town, and that the all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.” The waters rose up. A guy in a rowboat came along and he shouted, “Hey, hey you, you in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.” But the man shouted back, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.” A helicopter was hovering overhead and a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.” But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety. Well… the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter he demanded an audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man, I pray, I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” God said, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?””
Father Thomas Cavanaugh talking to President Josiah Bartlett in The West Wing S1E14 “Take This Sabbath Day”
Something you should probably know about me; I am a huge Aaron Sorkin fan. Sports Night, West Wing, Newsroom, even Studio 60; I have seen each and every one multiple times. Is his work perfect? No, but no piece of art is without criticism and I tend to look at Sorkin’s with a more positive eye, especially West Wing. The preceding quote has been in my head for awhile after a few friends had a ‘quote off’ of season one. An example of the many time wasting word games my friends and I play, to an obsessive degree.
Sorkin claims to be an atheist, at other times an agnostic at most, and I have no reason to disbelieve him. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, he has always included some degree of faith and religion into his programming, both to mock and to demonstrate a sense of respect and dignity. Now, before you exit from this post, this is not meant to begin a discussion about faith or religion or the role of either. Not saying those posts might not come late, but this is not it.
To me the quote above could have God replaced with Buddha, Allah, fate, life, Cthulu, the Easter bunny, or merely the universe for all I care. (Quick trip outside to make sure no one is trying to smite me…all clear). Honestly, it is not about placing one’s faith or life in specifically God’s hands but in looking for the signs to take action. I vehemently believe that there is some sort of code or pattern that makes the universe function. Even amidst the chaos and uncertainty, there are some underlying elements that we can see and observe and use to guide us. Not sure how accurate this belief is, but I am sure I could find some reputable scientists and theorists to back me up.
If we are willing to listen, observe, and act upon the signals and signs we see, I think we would be more fulfilled and less regretful. Will events and actions always work out in our favor? No, not at all. Sometimes the cute girl in the corner is smiling because she is remembering something funny and has nothing to do with you. Sometimes taking that risky dream job will end with you fired and on the market again a year later. Nonetheless, even with those instances you will have done something and learned from the experience without ever having to think about what could have been. This seems like a better way to have a life, or is it just me?
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where I do not fully practice what I preach, but I am working on it and, with a little effort it, soon it will stop simply being words.