If you've read my previous posts on John Edwards, you know I don't care much for him as a candidate. As I have written before, it befuddles me that he is one of the Democrats' "big 3" candidates. I keep trying to find something nice to say about him, and keep falling short. The best I can come up with is, if I really believed he cared as much about poor people as he says he does, that would improve my opinion of him (although we would still differ on policy specifics, but that's by no means a test of character). That all said, I felt for him this morning when the news came out that his wife has cancer, or rather, that her previously diagnosed cancer is incurable. I'm sure that somewhere out on the web somewhere, there's some jerk speculating about what this means to the Edwards campaign. It's worth remembering, that all these public figures are actual flesh-and-blood people, too. (Yes, even George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney! Maybe even Kobe Bryant!) No matter whether you are a pro athlete, a movie star, a politician, or just a schoolteacher, there are people in your life with whom you are entertwined. Those people, by their actions, their lack of action, their health, the choices they make--they can make their loved ones feel a million different emotions. Things like our health we can't help. But whether we like it or not, we effect people. My heart (and a brief prayer) go out to the Edwards family.
On another, barely related note. The Edwards story led my wife to a summary of what the Edwards' children are up to. I was unaware that they had a son who died at age 16 (he would be maybe 27 now) in a car crash. I don't know why some people seem to have more tragedies than others. I have a great aunt who has borne more than any human being should ever have to, in my opinion. Of course, my opinion is worthless on this topic. (I think it was my mom who told me that opinions are like armpits--we all have a couple, and most of 'em stink.) But when you try to philosophize why God allows some folks to have cancer, or bury children, or bear and raise babies with disabilities, or otherwise deal with stuff that I have never thus far had to do, it's a tough one. I know that we live in a world polluted by the consequences of sin and the fall. And I recall that once Jesus was asked about a man born blind, "who sinned, this man or his parents?" His answer was illuminating: "Neither. He was born this way that you might glorify God." (sorry, too lazy to pull out book, chapter, and verse--that's the Coach Sal Revised Version.) Then he healed the man, and sure enough, the people who saw gave the glory to God. I remember only one line of the Presbyterian chatechism I learned as a pre-teen: "What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to worship God and to glorify him." I certainly hope and pray that if ever I am in a position of suffering, that my response will bring glory to God.
Okay, last one, and I'm done. That same Edwards article said he has a daughter in Harvard Law School. Maybe I'm just a jerk, but among my first thoughts when I heard that was, "really? Wonder if she got in on her own, or if her dad being JE helped?" Seems to me that's the problem (well, ONE problem) with preferences of all sorts. You never REALLY know how good you were. President Bush did Yale undergrad and Harvard business school. But "everybody knows" his dad's name got him in. Or did it? Or did it help him once he was in? My best student ever is at Yale. I would bet a gazillion bucks he was good enough to get in on his own merits. But his dad was a legacy, so we'll never really know. And I teach at a wonderful private school, but I am also an alumnus of that school. I'll never be 100% sure whether I could have beaten out all the other applicants for my job had I not been "connected." That's not to say that I'd rather not have had the opportunity, or that this isn't how the world has always worked. Since I've already been philosophical once this post, I'll just posit that once again, that's a consequence of our fallen human nature. I sure am glad that God is more just than we are.
Wait, one more: maybe I take back one thing about that last line. I do expect God to give me preferential treatment far better than I deserve. Turns out, I'm a friend of His Son. It's not what you know, it's Who you know!