Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Five Million People You Meet in Limbo

Imagine this for a moment.

You’ve just been killed.  Maybe you were hit by a drunk driver, or stabbed by a mugger, or sick from food poisoning.  It’s up to you what the cause was, the point is that you’re in Limbo waiting to find out if you’ll end up in Heaven or Hell.

Someone appears out of the mists and approaches you asking for forgiveness. It’s your killer.  Maybe he’s the man who shot you for drug money.  Maybe she’s the chef who didn’t wash her hands properly before preparing your meal.  Maybe it’s a group of terrorists who poisoned the aspirin you bought.

The point is, your killer can’t enter Heaven without your forgiveness.  After all, how fair would it be for the two of you to spend eternity together?  Whatever choice you make, it’s final and eternal.  When you decide to pardon or condemn, your killer or killers disappear.

The mists clear and someone else is standing in front of you, someone you killed.  Maybe it’s someone you killed on purpose, but more likely it was an accident you weren’t even aware of.  It could be a man who died in the street after you evicted him from his home, or a child who got sick from a toy your company manufactured.  Whoever it is, you have to ask that person for forgiveness if you don’t want to spend eternity in Hell.

Maybe it goes well, and they accept it was an accident.  Maybe they forgive you, even though you killed them on purpose, tortured them, spat in their faces.  That person smiles and turns away from you, and you realize there’s someone else waiting for a turn with you.

It’s another victim.  There’s a line of victims.  There’s a long line of people stretching farther than you can imagine.  Everyone who died as a result of something you did or something that was done for you is waiting to judge you.

Halfway through that impossibly long line, it’s not people any more.  Every deer you shot while hunting, every snail you stepped on in the night, every weed you sprayed with pesticide, every microbe that passed through your lungs: they’re all waiting for you.  Each one has the same question: “Why couldn’t you let me live?  Why was my life so odious to you that you couldn’t have spared me?”

Sometimes you can say it was an accident, or that you needed to kill them to survive.  Sometimes you had a good reason.  Most of the time, you don’t.

Think about it when you are about to scrape a shrimp off your plate and into the garbage.  Think about it when you are about to yank a flower out of the ground because it was starting to wilt.  Think about it when you squish a spider.

Just think about it.

No comments: