When the Christians were exhausted from war, God saw fit to send the Indians smallpox.
– said an unnamed friar regarding Cortes’ invasion of the Valley of Mexico, as quoted in Douglas Preston’s book, The Lost City of the Monkey God.
The trappings of saying that the same kernel of Spirit is contained in each religion, or that all religions are paths to Truth, are myriad, many of them obvious. Let’s talk about one at the heart of them all you might not have thought of, but, once read, will seem obvious: sometimes synchronicities happen on personal and social scales, which, when interpreted through a religious lens, act as confirmation that God is on your side. And sometimes those confirmations that you are aligned with God’s will come in the form of atrocities.
Synchronicities happen to people. They are person-centric phenomena and so what they affirm or deny is contextualized by the individual or group. Interpreting synchronicities as being in favor of or against a group of people is problematic to say the least. When we see synchronicities as purely personal to us, for our personal journey, or for the benefit of our religious group, and ignore the fact that everyone has them, we can commit violence against others, and even against ourselves, and then justify it later as “meant to be,” when the darkness lifts.
When the good times are here and we don’t feel we need a sign because we’re where we want to be in life, we look at the bad we just crawled out of as a necessary step, a lesson in life’s education, ordained from on highest. And yet, often, we don’t learn the real lesson and we repeat the same missteps, only to reemerge with the same feeling of the ordeal being meant to be and our having learned from it.
Never mind the pain we caused ourselves. Never mind the suffering we inflicted upon others, or had inflicted upon us by others. Never mind tragedy per se, where people are maimed and killed—if it was meant to be, it was tragic and necessary. Meant to be for us to learn from it, that is. But how can we learn when we’re so lost in ourselves that we think another person’s torture is our classroom?
We’re like that football player who, when he scores a touchdown, points to the heavens and thanks God. And by “that football player, “ I mean all of ‘em. They all do it on both teams, on all teams, in every game.
Now replace “God” with “synchronicities,” “team” with “religion,” and “them” with “you.” Touchdown!
Why did we become experts in seeing this point in external examples? Why so rarely in ourselves, generation after generation after generation after generation after…?
I guess it was meant to be.