I have cancer as a punishment for my evil ways. Why could the punishment not have been the flu? Or something equally benign? I guess it could have been worse is I had sinned more. I watch House every week on television, and there are a number of conditions that are worse than cancer.

I noticed this couple at one of my chemo sessions. He, the patient, was not a happy camper. Nothing unusual, few of us smile on these occasions. I noticed them again at my last Chemo Daycare part. He was still not a happy camper. Barely said anything. I nodded at him, and he nodded back. His wife/partner/sister who was accompanying him struck up a conversation.

This is not the first time I have heard this interpretation of our condition. SHe maintains that he got cancer because he strayed from the path. This is his punishment. He will get better when he returns to the path.

We continued talking, wandering into a discussion of good and evil. The notion of Satan or the Devil doing his work, while God stands by. Janet left the waiting room. These discussions rarely go anywhere. I enjoy the mental exercise. That is what it is. Getting around the inconsistencies is quite an exercise.

The idea that God would stand by while the Devil goes about his evil ways begs the question of what sort of relationship these two have. I am assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as the Devil or Satan. More on that later.  Does God have a contract with Satan? God says, look at him and his evil ways, take him out. I say he is a category 2 evil. Category 2 you say, well that stands for Cancer. Got it.

The sinner repents, and God says, that is good. You are back in my flock. Devil, here is your commission, job well done. I still have cancer, the price to be paid for my sinning ways.

The woman who brought up the argument that Cancer is a punishment belongs to the Pentecostal Church. He has cancer because he strayed from the straight and narrow.  She will not get cancer because she is on the path through the salvation of Jesus Christ. If God will heal, what is he doing here, in chemo daycare? The answer to some comment I made returns this response: Did God tell him he has cancer? Who are going to believe, God or the Doctor? This is the second time I have come across this particular twist.

If there is a God the almighty, why is there a devil? Why cannot God take him out? God the good, Satan the evil. Are the lines really that clear?

The contradictions in the arguments are astounding. Reconciling the concept of good and evil is, in itself, a Herculean task. What is good and where is the separation between good and evil? Who defines what is good, and by contrast what is evil? Darkness is the absence of light. Is evil the absence of good? Which brings us back to who defines what is good?

The lines separating good and evil get murkier as one gets older. The advantage of not knowing with absolute certainty what all the answers are. Fire is both good and evil. The definition of what is good is getting harder.

Is my cancer good or evil. On the face of it, I can say with absolute certainty that is evil. On the other hand, this blog has helped people who either have cancer, or know someone who does. Getting cancer has given me the opportunity to delve into afreas I would not normally venture into.

My relationship with Fetneh has become stronger than ever, as has my relationship with my brother. My wife and I are closer than we have ever been, a renewed relationship, if that were possible. I cannot work, but I can still help people. Religion plays a bigger role in my life. Contemplation of life and events that surround me have gained a new importance and a validity of sorts. Is cancer bad? I can truly say that it is a pain, and for sure not a good thing. The effects of it, though, have been surprising and an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Baha’is are encouraged to fast once a year, between March 2 and March 21. We are enjoined to not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. We wake up before sunrise and eat enough to see us to sunset. We also say prayers, one of which is the prayer for the fast. the fast ends with the New Years celebration called Naw Ruz, literally translated as New Day. One of the prayers celebrating Naw Ruz has a passage that is particularly interesting to me:

“Shouldst Thou regard him who hath broken the fast as one who hath observed it, such a man would be reckoned among them who from eternity had been keeping the fast. And shouldst Thou decree that he who hath observed the fast hath broken it, that person would be numbered with such as have caused the Robe of Thy Revelation to be stained with dust, and been far removed from the crystal waters of this living Fountain.”

This opens an amazing door for compassion and forgiveness. Qualifying an action by the amount of spirituality or sincerity in observing rules and regulations.Can this be translated to the observance of other rules?

Some things should be considered as evil, though not at the behest of Satan. Murder in all its forms, as in genocide, is reprehensible. The effects of such actions may not be reprehensible. If death is the ultimate goal of life, then surely such actions fulfill the life long destiny of the victims ushering them into the next life.

Is this too far fetched

Fear is so debilitating. Most are such a waste of emotions.

Not having fear would ruin a good horror movie, mind. The static pages section on the right has a list of over 600 fears and their scientific terms. 600! The title of this post is fear of death and I hope the conversation leads me there. People often ask me what process I go through when writing. Simple really. I just write what comes to my head. Very little editing. I correct my typos, as much as I can. The screen is failing my aging eyes. I might re-arrange a couple of things, but in general do not spend any time re-writing any sections. Hence the hope that the conversation will eventually lead me to the title.

I grew up in Ethiopia. We were there from 1953 to 1963. There are maps of the world showing how much artificial light we generate in different parts of the world. Africa is dark.

Map Showing the Amount of Artificial Lights we Generate

Map Showing the Amount of Artificial Lights we Generate

It is dark today, and it was dark in 1953 and 1963. I was very afraid of the dark. Some nights were so dark you would be blind outside. I have always been a restless sleeper. My parents used to put dining room chairs beside my bed as I kept falling out of bed. I would not go to the bathroom at night. They would leave the bathroom window open. I was terrified of the darkness outside. Every once in a while, there would be a feral cat sitting on the window sill. All I could see was the two eyes shining ominously at me. Did I mention how terrified of cats I was as well? Not sure where I peed the first night I saw that combination in the bathroom window.

We raised chicken in Ethiopia. The feral cats would attack them regularly. My brother made a sport of shooting the cats. The locals would also participate. It was fun, I think. I had no objections. The fewer of them the less likely they would be sitting in the bathroom window waiting for me. My job was to encourage the chickens to go into the coop at nights to prevent the cats from eating them. Chicken are the dumbest animals on earth. They had to be chased into the coop every night. You would think they figure things out after a couple of weeks. But no, not these animals. No wonder we eat them. No danger of any brain disease afflicting us, since chicken do not have brains.

Janet and I went to Martha’s Vineyard for our honeymoon. It was loads of fun, highly recommended as a travel destination. We took a drive down to the beach one night. How romantic. It was a cloudy night, not a star in the sky and totally dark. I mean cannot see the nose in front of your face dark. We found our way to the beach and stood there holding hands listening to the steady rhythm of the waves lapping the shores. We stood for about five minutes when the conversation turned to the dangers of being there by yourself, and how someone could easily kill you and you would never be found. Never mind it was too dark to see anything. We talked ourselves into an inane fear and rushed back to the car racing home.You can laugh now. In fact we all laugh now when we talk about it. What an insane thought process to put yourself through.


It paralyses you.

It defeats you.

Makes you cringe at the slightest provocation.

Fear of a project at work stops you from performing the task in the allowed time frame.

And the list goes on.

Wikipedia has a listing  for fear. Big surprise there. They also talk about fear of death. There it is, the title subject.

Are we afraid of death because we do not know what happens after? Why would that scare us? We often do not know what is going to happen after some other events in our lives. Why does death scare us so? Life after death, which I believe in, is also fraught with issues. What happens when you get to the pearly gates? Where do you fit in the new world? We are told there is progress and evolution in the next world but no time factor. How does that work? We are told that there is a connection between our current world and the next. That you reconnect with you spouse in the next world. That punishments not meted out in this world for a crime committed will be looked after in the next world.

All sorts of questions arise from this. What form, what shape, what is considered a punishable offense? What constitutes a punishment? We do not believe in heaven and hell, only life after death. Is Hitler standing behind a window watching the fun everybody else is having? Accompanied by Genghis Khan and Hannibal? Or is Genghis Khan not such a bad guy, living in a different age where values were so different from what they are now? Do we really know the difference between good and bad in order to make an intelligent decision regarding any of this?

What if you do not believe in life after death? The world as you know it ends. You are buried or cremated and that is the end of it. The only certainty in life is death. You are born, and you know that you will die. Just a question of when, where and how. Most of these you cannot control. Not believing in life after death is a release of sorts. No payment for your indiscretions, they are buried with you. What are you afraid of exactly?

We moved to Toronto in 1980. I got a job at Radio Shack as a salesman. An insurance agent came into the store and saw me as a target. There is a twist, a salesperson comes into a store to sell to another salesperson. She started the sale picth:

Do you have life insuranace?


What happens if you die?

I will be dead

What about your family?

They won’t be dead

Who is going to bury you?

I don’t know who will bury me. I will be dead.

Is it fair to leave that expense to your family?

I don’t know, others will assist. Look around you, any dead bodies lying around? Somehow everyone gets looked after. And anyways, I will be dead.

She walks out.

I do not fear death because I do not know what lies ahead of me. I can only fear things I know about. For instance running over a pedestrian. It could happen, specially the way I drive. That is a relative known factor. But death is so unknown. Not like you can come back and talk about it, or send a postcard. You die, you are gone. Why the fear?

The above mentioned Wikipedia article talks about people of Faith have less fear of death. The further you remove yourself from Faith, the more scared of death you are.

Some of my friends tell me I am lucky or fortunate to have this Faith that gives me comfort. Maybe. I wish I understood this better.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha