So much depends upon that one phrase, doesn’t it? A person’s entire worldview is based on what words follow that phrase. Every person, no matter what we are taught as children or as adults, must eventually come on our own to believe what came next, or else we live without regard to who or what we are as human beings. Perhaps some people do that without thinking, or even try to live without any meaningful regard to first beginnings. After all, it is almost football season. What could be more important?
But, no matter how we might try to avoid it, sooner or later, we are faced with deciding — choosing — for ourselves what came next, because that will determine everything that follows. And, nobody on the face of the earth really can know, definitively, what came next, because we weren’t there at the beginning to witness it. And nobody, no human being, (apologies to Mr. Hawking) possesses all knowledge and can say definitively that science can teach us everything we need to know about how the universe began. (We still argue about when an individual human life begins.) We will never, ever be that smart. So, we must decide at some point, based upon what we are able to learn from the world around us and, more importantly, what we believe about what we learn.
Some believe that God created the heavens and the earth and that they have a purpose and an end. Some believe that it all came from nothing out of necessity or by chance and that the end is irrelevant and meaningless. So what? Well, our history as a human race and as human beings is a story. Our individual stories are inextricably woven into the story of human history and the history of the universe, for that matter. They are the same story. As with every story, the end is shaped by the beginning. And the beginning is what we choose to believe. As it is with the universe, so it is with us as a race, so it is with us as a nation, and so it is with us as individual people. It is most important.
Maybe some people don’t care about or lose interest in their stories, or are so harried by strife and turmoil that they can’t see or understand the stories of their lives. Some decide that their stories are absurd nonsense. Perhaps it all depends on how they choose to see their beginnings.
The stories of some of us are cut short too soon. Some end happily. Some end sadly. But the greatest tragedy, I think, are those that just end — finis — mainly because the ones telling them never really decided on how they began.
We love stories. We especially love stories that end well. We find ourselves wanting them to go on forever. I think the ability to tell stories is part of what makes us human. The story we choose to tell is part of what makes us beings, rather than mere living entities. And every story starts with the phrase: “In the beginning.”
How does your story begin?