I once journaled about a thought I once had on divine accidents. It had to do with the circumstances of our births being a sort of “divine accident”. I don’t believe that this was my original idea. It was likely placed there by someone at an institution of “higher learning.”
What exactly is a “divine accident?” Many times before I’ve given much thought to so-called “acts of God”, and how it’s often used to explain how things happen in a way we can’t otherwise comprehend . I don’t mean to get particularly religious here. But, I do want to delve into this topic of divine accidents, as this topic has been on my mind time and again.
Too often we think in terms of past, present, and future as being a simple, linear nonspatial continuum. However, this is not often the case. History is not simply a series of events, as it’s a complex web of cause and effect relationships. Oftentimes, it seems that we’re conditioned to assume certain things simply from how history is portrayed in the form of today’s textbooks and through lectures.
Long ago, I started to think about the nature of “divine accidents” occurring throughout history. For example, was the American Revolution one such “accident?” Or, was this Revolution an entirely human product brought about by purely human causes?
How Do We Understand Our Own Places in History Unless They Are Defined As “Divine Accidents?”
I’ve spent considerable time trying to rewrite my own history to make it more palatable for memory’s sake. It’s not so much for my own edification as it is for making sense of my extremely complicated past. American culture often tends toward the nostalgic, to live in the past whenever our present is uncomfortable and our future uncertain. But, it’s an important need for us to look at the passage of time as a continuum, not simply as a straight timeline.
I refuse to classify my talent of written composition as a “divine accident.” Also, I prefer not to think of myself simply as an “accident.” Who I am meant to be as necessary to the unfolding of the universe. My purpose is vaguely defined at best, but not pre-designated. Free will is added to the equation, and that “gift” often tends to complicate everything.
We are each born with particular potency. That’s not to say that one’s potential is less or more than one other’s potential. Its form is simply different. The magnitude, as far as our limited intellect and perception can tell, may be less or more in the context of what we perceive as being the course of history.
Every human being born into this universe has a definite effect on all others, even if that purpose is not clear to us. Nicholas of Cusa once said that everything that is possible exists in actuality. That is to say, anything is possible if we make it happen. However, it’s far too easy for people to say that the course of history is simply made up of a bunch of “divine accidents” or “God let it happen.” It’s not so much a matter of letting it happen, as much as we ourselves let things happen.
Why Do Bad Things Happen and Why Do We Call Them “Acts of God?”
Take natural disasters like the aftermath of devastating hurricanes as an example. Are these “acts of God” or “divine accidents” meant to punish humanity? No, but when tragedies arise from these things, it’s our own inability to know how to deal with them, it is the aftermath that turns them into tragedies. To say that God is simply punishing us is both selfish and extremely ignorant. Our desires and understandings are finite, linear things.
That’s not to say what you want or hope for is irrelevant. Yet, simply desiring something, and praying for these things to come to fruition without a willful plan to actually fulfill those potentials is foolish and lazy. There are many things that appear to be out of our control. Yes, for one person, many things are, but, not for the combined will of humanity.
Our society as it’s currently constituted is not based upon the Platonic concept of agape. In the New Testament of the Bible, agape is the type of love that comes from God. It is love that’s undeserved, gracious, and sacrificial. To be “good Christians,” we should all partake in spreading agape. Unfortunately, Christianity for all of its merits is often little more than ideal; most so-called Christians fall far short of really understanding what agape means.
For too many of us, our love of humanity gets lost in our attempts to “make ends meet.” It’s not to say we don’t think of others at all. But, we don’t often think of others as all being all that important to us, never mind potential candidates for great undertakings and discoveries. When we do, it’s often in a passive way, like donating to some faceless cause.
Agape Love Gives Human Lives Purpose, So Without It, What Do We Become?
We often allow ourselves to be assigned to “niches,” in order to be able to find some “purpose” in our lives. This habit of pigeonholing ourselves for the illusion of security is simply too constricting for the human spirit to willfully bear. So, too many of us allow our wills to be broken. Many of us fall into a depressed, unfulfilling existence as human cattle, the industrial cogs of human machinery, for which is the basis of capitalism itself. The irony is that the primary purpose of founding the United States of America was to attempt to prevent this very thing, in pursuit of the ever-elusive American Dream!
I’m very guilty of not using my talents to their full potential. I’ve let laziness get the best of me far too often. I allow my own frustrations and my high-strung tendencies to block me from actually composing something that’s congruent with my thoughts. You can never be absolutely precise, but to seek and demand absolute perfection is to be human. Even if the end result is not perfect, we often accept that we made the attempt
That isn’t to say perfection is an attainable goal, as no one can know everything. But, to know one thing or several things to a great degree is crucial for a happy existence. You have to aim to be the best at something, or at everything you can put your mind to, even if you are told it is impossible. The so-called Expert Enough Manifesto, written by Corbett Barr, still holds true. Even more importantly, it’s important to learn to love yourself from what you are and to do the same for those around you.
To say something is simply impossible is cowardly. If something cannot truly work in actuality, or if something is truly absurd, then so be it. If one can think of it and conceive of it, then it still actually exists, even if it’s in another, different dimension or time, within an incredible paradox of existence.
If there are any “divine accidents” to be considered, it’s that wonderful “divine accident” product of human cognition that we need to place paramount above all others. We must learn to appreciate that we are all born into this world for a reason. Finding a reason to hate another person is useless and counterproductive to the advancement of the human condition.
We are all born into this universe with limitless potential. But, there are many obstacles, different perspectives and ideas that don’t always intermingle. Yet, it is human nature to see the world from an egocentric point of view, where the perspective of others is often dismissed as useless or less important than one’s own
I’m not an expert in this field, though I hope to have made some distinct progress in making abstract ideas more understandable. Writing this originally was meant as an exercise to organize my own thoughts that quickly evolved into a profound attempt to convey something magnificent and indescribable in magnitude. It’s quite imperfect, but at least it’s something. It seems that when faced with an idea this big, one cannot logically think about anything else, at all.
I love you all, my fellow human beings. If you ever need to find a purpose in your life, just learn to love those around you graciously and unconditionally. That’s what ended up working out for me, and it could just as easily work out for you!
~ Amelia <3
Originally written New Year’s Day 2011, Revised September 11, 2020
Thanks to Thomas Slatin for his invaluable input on this piece!