In which the relationship between cause and effect is contrasted with the idea that the world's events are all an accident.
If you believe all of “this” (the universe and all the things in it) is a cosmic accident, step right over here. I have got a sweet deal for you. Were it Roman times, a nice fella (who looks a lot like me) would open his toga and display a nice selection of Timex sundials: not one of them more than $19.95. That fella, like me, understood cause and effect excellently.
It is a real test of my manners when some zany moonchild tells me that fate brought everything together. I don’t mind her wanting to add a little romance to what is probably a fairly drab existence, but I dislike her contempt when I visibly do not share her opinion.
My neighbor, whom I will call Mrs. Kismet, as I do not have permission to use her name, thinks it is a divine moment of interlocking celestial energies when she finds a nice pair of shoes on sale at the mall. A wise man would say, “Well, good for you, glad it worked out.”
Occasionally I have made the fatal mistake of suggesting to those who feel the alignment of Venus and Mars is the real reason they met their husband or wife, that possibly more mundane reasons were at work. If I suggested that she being at the Church Mixer in her best dress and heels, wearing enough perfume to stun a mature elephant, and George, the husband had been eating his own cooking for ten years, might have something to do with the subsequent marriage, I am looked at like the devil incarnate. Obviously this is heresy of the worst kind. I didn't do that by the way. I may be silly but I am not foolish.
All of this notwithstanding, I do appreciate serendipity. I even like the word. I love a surprise. And believe it or not I don’t parse the events that lead up to it. I don’t carefully define each cause and effect that led to that surprise.
Years ago when I was in the Navy, my ship the USS Ranger put in to Hong Kong for a visit. I went ashore for liberty. I had a list of things to purchase from an assortment of relatives. Strolling up Queens Central Road whom do I see coming toward me? It’s my cousin Charley. I had no idea he was in the navy, hadn’t seen him for many years. We went to the NAFI club; a serviceman’s club run for British sailors, drank a few beers and had a great reunion. This was serendipity.
The problem with accidents is that they give the appearance of being events over which we have no control. And taking this a step further, when one believes that everything occurs without reason or cause, it is far too easy to say: “It’s not my fault I ran into the garage, it was an accident.” Or worse, “it’s not my fault my government is stealing me blind, politicians are always doing that.” It is peculiar that no connection between their vote for some wretched rascal and his or her subsequent bad behavior comes to mind. And by the way, blaming it on the devil won’t wash, sorry.
On a more cheerful note, I made a hole-in-one at the golf course the other day. It shouldn’t be surprising that I was perfectly willing, even insisted that fate had nothing to do with that shot. It was obviously the result of cause and effect: my perfect execution and the resulting Ace. Those who are more attuned to the accidental universe might say, “Damn, Donald, that was incredibly lucky”.
I think it is a matter of being responsible when “accidents” happen, of really looking at what part you had in the events. When you run into the back of someone’s Ford Station wagon, ignoring the fact that you were running your mouth on a cell phone and then insisting that it was an accident, or the devil made you do it, is not only a lie it creates a way of living that is less, far less than what an adult is capable of living.
Cause and effect is not a crime of the practical minded. It is how the universe works. There are causes followed by effects. Knowing this does not remove love, art, romance or creativity from life.
And for those of you who still think my Hole-In-One was an accident, I am sorry to report that the Moon was not in my Lower House. There’s barely enough room in here for me!
About the Author
Mr. Ladew has traveled and worked all over the world. He spent many years as an aerospace engineer. He works as a technical writer and trainer. Mr. Ladew is also a novelist (2 books published), writes articles, essays, short stories and Haiku. he has also written a best selling business book for mid-level supervisors.