A dangerously risky move

Harry Drabik

I knew better, I really did. But, finally, after five frost free mornings in a row I had enough and could not resist the worm wriggle urge to get the ice and snow brush out of the car. A wiser and saner thing would be to leave it there until lilacs bloom, but I was in a devilish mood to flaunt the odds and confirm spring, Spring at Last!

More of a rebel at 70 than I was at seventeen I went on a hormone spiked spree that if I was seventeen and rebellious (which I wasn’t much) could have led to a spate of streaking incidents in the Iron Range community I lived in at the time. Doing that would at least have given citizens proof I was as big a useless idiot as presumed, and maybe a giggle as well because I was never a graceful runner. Sage (remember Schillings) and wiser my reckless spree of defiance consisted of going round and gathering all the snow shovels. There is one outside every door, two down by the woodshed, another rests outside the garage, plus there are the “scoops” I’d once kept in the trunk for road emergencies, and thus reminded of the large “push scoop” I went and got that, and even so I almost forgot one down by the cabin and the woodshed there.

I got them all, every last one. Lined up like stalls in a large public restroom they looked impressive in a meekly utilitarian sort of way. It’s interesting how so many brands of ordinary snow shovel are made to mate at a curved notch that allows tighter packing and less wasted shipping space. It is a safe bet that compactness of stacking was not a special benefit to the consumer who has essentially no need of it. Nor was it a plus for me who wanted his shovels in serried ranks assembled, a small army non-compliant shovels with handles raised high like slogan fists shouting No More Snow! We demand an end of snow is an appealing and inspiring ideal if you’re not a ski hill owner or lover of wintry sport.

But take heart. No more Snow stands all the chance of No more War as ever happening no matter how many shovels I amass to defy winter or how ardently I wish for eternal balmy peace. We are human beings, after all, and not entirely benign creatures; ask the Passenger Pigeon or Dodo.

Like most I don’t “believe” in superstition and know full well that symbolic acts and devout beliefs don’t sort out light particles from waves. But if you look round at all the people who do not believe in superstition or God you’ll find most believe in something. A belief I find of long standing popularity is faith in family, friends, or community as a basic pillar. The collective of human family is noble and will indeed sustain until some division line of ethnicity, faith, or self- interest overrides. Then you’re on your own, but in the meantime the image of comfort in the human family is as good a superstition as any for the non-superstitious and non-believing to hang onto.

My current favorite in popular belief is kale. Before the lifesaving qualities of kale were made known by the agriculturally devout followers of Gia members of humanity died in droves like flies. This is still the case, but now happens with the benefits of kale, which were especially unknown in kale-free areas like the Atacama, Antiplano, and arid areas in general. Eskimo people were as kales free as any on the planet and they suffered the consequences of regular mortality, but they did so with the benefit of fish oils utterly denied to members of humanity on the Mongolian Plateau or Himalayan Highlands. Faith in the value of fish oil is a valuable component in seeking a longer life, one possibly rendered rather solitary when every breath exhales all the olfactory charm of dead carp. Even a committed unbeliever believes in something.

A pronounced unbelief among western people involves denial of a god. This position is often backed with assertions about how much damage they attribute to religion and by association to god. If, as they have it, god does not exist then a deity is not to blame for ills it could never have caused. Not believing in something a person says does not exist misses the real culprit which is belief itself because like it or not and aware or not each of us has beliefs we hold to. Blaming god and religion expresses an unquestioned belief in one’s private system of belief. A conventional believer who questions their beliefs may be on firmer spiritual or humanist ground than a position of non-belief wearing blinders.

People bond and/or separate according to belief (aka agreement or consensus). If you see that then you’ll also see that having a blind belief is more dangerous (think of your most stubborn uncle as an example) when coupled directly to attitudes that are hostile and judgmental. Blind belief in paradise might be silly. Blind belief in acting as God’s Agent can be damned dangerous. Content of belief is a telling element in any belief. As example, ask yourself the likelihood of a Quaker suicide bomber. It is possible but not probable. With certain other beliefs the possibility is higher because a believer reads the source of their sect expressing victory through terror. Such a twist of belief sets things in a direction that sacrifices others along with self. That’s a big difference right there. So the possibility is higher and the probability of action on belief is likewise higher. If the individual feels justified in sacrificing others and/or they are in a moral hell where they feel no choice but blind adherence the situation is very different than the one you or I might know. Belief that allows you to question or mock is far safer than one demanding  earthly obedience now.