The Plight of Humanity

I must admit, that title is a little broad. There are many things that could be listed as a plight of humanity. Perhaps after writing this I will have a better title.

This morning, in an effort to stretch the mental muscles of my sister, I proposed a hypothetical situation. Yes, it was a little silly, but oh well. Here goes. Imagine that you are going on a picnic. You make chicken sandwiches and lemonade. You’re going on this picnic with some people you don’t know too well. They aren’t your best friends. You get to the picnic grounds, and they complain about your sandwiches. They say your lemonade is bad. They start making fun of you. They mock you. You come home in tears and cry all night. Now, also suppose that you live in a world where doctors have discovered a way to erase memories from your mind. They hook your brain up to a machine, you go to sleep, and when you wake up, there is no memory of whatever events you want erased. So suppose that the people you went on the picnic with are dead. And this memory has haunted you for so long, you wanted it removed. You go to the doctor, go to sleep, and when you wake up and the doctor asks, “so what happened at the picnic with those people?” you say, “what people? what picnic? I don’t remember anything like that ever happening.” The memory has been totally erased. No one can find the other people who attended the picnic either to prove it. So my question is, did it really happen? Did you really go on that picnic then?

You might say (as my sister did), “well, of course I went on the picnic, are you crazy?!” (in celebration of National Punctuation Day, I felt it was my duty to end a sentence with “?!”) and then I will remind you that without any memory of it happening, you have no sure way of knowing that it did indeed occur. How can you know that it happened if you don’t remember it? If no one remembers it?

It was only after much imagining and much lecturing on my part that my sister began to see the problem. Yes, without any memory of the event, there is no way to know that it happened. I thought it was most fascinating and had some very interesting implications. She said that it was absurd to spend so much time talking about a hypothetical picnic and memory removal.

If you read Orwell’s 1984, this might seem vaguely familiar. This is the same problem they faced in Orwell’s dystopian world. If a picture or record was dropped down the memory hole, then it no longer really happened. If anyone said, “but I remember the war with Eastasia 5 years ago!” they would be told that they had simply been dreaming, the war was really with Eurasia. And who could prove the truth? And without a memory, what is truth? And this is where the issue becomes particularly fascinating to me.

In a world of Big Brother and totalitarian government, what recourse would we have? That is our plight. Without our memory, there is no way to show the lies of the government. Black becomes white if they say so, day becomes night if they so decree it. And how could we escape such a fate? It seems hopeless.

But it isn’t over yet! This is where the existence of God comes in. And this is one more reason, I believe, why the existence of God is so terribly important. You see, even Big Brother can’t erase a memory from God. God knows all things. No matter how totalitarian a government might be, they still can’t control God. And so although we might be confused in this 1984-ish world, “wasn’t our enemy Oceania?” our deliverance will come from God. For one day, the Lord will no longer tolerate the audacity of man to attempt to be a god over the earth. One day, the Lord will say, “enough!” and the facade of the government will crumble to dust. One day, the Lord will return, evil will be seen again as evil, and truth will prevail.

While we have this plight of truth, being, and reality, it is not a problem for God and so we can trust in that knowledge and know that no matter what happens, God will make all right in the end.

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