Kenneth White was a passenger in a van travelling along route I-75 near Flint Michigan. If it was anything like when I ride anywhere with my best friend, good conversations were probably going down. He was probably talking about work, his family – making a good joke when the opportunity presented itself mid story.
9.81 meters per second per second later.
This is the force of gravity here on Earth.
If you throw a tennis ball into the air in front of you, straight up – it will fall from the tallest point in the air 9.81 meters per second per second faster from that point.
In 1797, British scientist Henry Cavendish was the first to actually measure the force of gravity between masses, and the first to yield accurate values ultimately for the gravitational constant. When you read about some guy in some lab somewhere measuring ‘gravity waves’, it’s all the same soup – just a bigger pot.
5 teenagers had no idea who Henry Cavendish was. Probably never heard of Issac Newton. But they had a pretty good idea what would happen, when they dropped the 6 pound rock in front of the passenger van Kenneth White was sitting in, as a passenger – from atop the overpass near Flint, Michigan yesterday.
All told, the five teenagers ranging in age from 15 to 17, threw a total of 20 rocks off 2 overpasses that night. And a tire.
One rock weighed 20 pounds.
[A bowling ball weights 16 pounds]
A police cruiser was dispatched to White’s home. Like in some movie. To tell a little boy that his father wasn’t ever coming home again.
Every today….today, in fact – you and I are participants in an eternal cosmic equation. Use words like “chaos theory” or “probability” if it helps you get your head around it. Ultimately however, nearly 100% of us have insulated our minds from the cold reality of the actuarial math which envelops, surrounds, and intertwines us all. We universally summon the same brave faces and polite colloquialisms in its face.
“Oh, it was just his time“, we say. Saying it was “just their time” surrounds the coldness of the math with marshmellowy warm words in an attempt to distance and insulate ourselves. We use words like some kind of vehicular “air bags” to cushion the reminder that we are all Kenneth White bingo-balls in a cosmic VFW basement, spinning around the circular cage until it’s “our time”. Until ‘somone’ calls our number.
People are not generally good.
We are the most advanced society that has ever graced the surface of the blue marble we find ourselves living on. The blue marble is filled with people who have thought some pretty big metaphysical thoughts about it all, topping out with the “big 3” religions after thousands of years.
When I read about Mr. White this morning, Buddhism didn’t have an answer for me about his death. Nor did Islam. Kenneth wasn’t being punished for something in his past life, or smitten by an angry Islamic god.
He was killed by an ancestor of Cain.
Something is horribly broken here on Terra Firma. It didn’t used to be like this. And someday it won’t be like this anymore. But when rocks fall from overpasses and bullets rain down from Vegas hotels, Christ wins the eternal gambit. He alone possesses the answers which most accurately describe the human condition. The potential each of us has to inflict unspeakable, generations-spanning pain on one another.
We all carry Cain’s genes.
These kids, after killing White, went to eat at McDonald’s. Buddha and Muhammad can’t speak to that. The holes in Christ’s hands…his feet……his sides give him full observational authority in my mind. The shortest verse in the New Testament sums the condition of humanity’s hearts up, in fact:
“Jesus wept.” [John 11, v35]
Today is a wake up call of sorts, for you. Not so much for me, as I’ve been awake for a little while, anyway. This is what I tell myself…
There are two choices we are all making, every day. Two thoughts at war for our mind.
One is telling you to play it safe. To stand near the other zebras, and go where the other zebras go. Whispers to you, that if all the zebras are standing together, it makes it harder for the lions of the world to pick you off.
This idea that if you shuffle quietly from morning to evening and do what everyone else does and thinks what everyone else thinks we all make it to 82.52 years old. This thought, is a lie.
Today, I’d like you to give yourself permission to hear the second thought out.
It’s the one that reminds you as you’re driving….the person coming at you in the other lane could be distracted. Angry. Drunk. Or suicidal.
Its quiet voice is a primordial reminder that life, however you define its origin – every second of life is precious and beautiful and miraculous. It speaks to the wanton wastefulness of homo-erectus with regards to the commodity of TIME.
You will never have as much of it as you think you will.
We will all be surprised when we die. When our rock comes. Jesus knew it better than anyone:
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared-whose will they be?’….” (Luke 12:20)
How would your live your life differently today – if you knew it was your last day?
Where would you travel to, if you truly understood how little time we all had left?
What words that have been left unspoken for decades would you cautiously utter to someone?
What would you tell your kids tonight that they’ve never heard?
Who would you forgive? Ask forgiveness of?