Philosophical Rants

(Insert Deity Here) Helps Those Who Help Themselves

  • February 20, 2014

Recently one of my more “New Age” friends posted a quote on a social media site about the value of meditation. As I interpreted it, chasing after things was to be avoided; rather, wait for your need to bring things to you. I encountered that in the context of the recent news of the couple who believed in “faith healing” and who refused to take their two children to actual doctors, subsequently killing them both. More fuel on the fire: I’ve overheard more than one of my more religious acquaintances espouse a philosophy of “let go and let god.” I get this feeling that such people believe they need merely to say the magic words, or think the magic thoughts, and then wait for some invisible divine hand to come down and stir things up more in their favor.

As you undoubtedly already surmised from my ranting about this, I do not buy this attitude; not one bit. In fact, the concept brings to mind a semi-humorous story you may already have heard:

So it’s raining really hard. There’s a man of strong faith living beside a river and it starts to flood. The sheriff’s deputies come by and tell him he should leave before the river cuts off the road.

“The Lord will save me,” he tells them.

The river is up to the front porch when some folks come by in a boat and tell him to hop in and they’ll take him to safety.

“The Lord will save me,” he tells them.

The water rises above the first floor and the man has to climb on his roof. The National Guard comes by in a boat and begs the man to come with them.

“The Lord will save me,” he tells them.

The waters keep rising and the man is clinging to his chimney. A helicopter appears and lowers a rope, but he refuses to go, telling them “The Lord will save me.”

Finally he is standing on top of the chimney and the river is still rising.

“Lord,” he calls out, “Lord, why have you forsaken me?”

The sky splits open and a HUGE voice booms out, “I sent two boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?”


I’m not completely disavowing the power of meditation, or prayer, or whatever your flavor of spiritualism calls it; in fact, such acts are demonstrated (if coupled with actual belief) to help people allay their fears, steer through cluttered landscapes of problems, see their path clearly, and find deep inner resolve to cope with (or even overcome) whatever life throws at them. Faith can be a boundless source of inspiration and guidance and strength.

But only if you then act on the resources that spiritual effort brings you. In the end it’s still you who need to make things happen. You.

It’s possible that some folks in the “let go” crowd mean exactly that: let go your stress and let your deity guide you. If so, then great! We’re totally on the same page! For the rest, though, I exhort you to finish what you were doing in the lotus position, or on your knees, or dancing Widdershins around a naked statue of Bluto, or whatever, and then get on your feet and go Do Stuff! No one, here or Up There, is going to do it for you.

Now, don your spiritual armor of choice and go ye forth to kick some real-world ass! aggressive gif

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