The Prerequisite to Paradise

By: Scott Biddulph

 

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Morbid curiosity has led me down some obscure roads in my life. Curiosity killed the cat, but it wasn’t fair. The cat just had a few questions, that’s all. Damn. I`ve always wondered who came up with that ridiculous saying, anyway. I`ve had my own experiences with death, human suffering, evil, and violence…but I seem to be drawn in by the increasing regularity of shocking brutality we see in today’s world. Not to mention the sheer rudeness of people in general. My grandmother used to say to me, “Men`s love will wax cold in the end times son.” Man…did it ever! I detest violence, but it seems to be a characteristic of the human condition that we cannot escape. Our propensity towards cruelty or selfishness is indeed a nasty little lizard on our shoulders, just like the story by C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce. I’m curious as to why. Why do we act this way? Why do we do these things to one another?

I love to watch true crime shows like The First 48, or Cold Case Files. I love to watch documentaries about the dictators of the 20th century like Mao, Stalin, and Hitler. And then there’s the beheading videos from radical Islamists. I`ve watched a couple. Not because I have the same bloodlust they seem to have, but because I wanted to know what it looked like. I couldn’t imagine it. Now I know why…because you have to be one sick bastard to be able to imagine such barbarism. I cried. Sitting at my desk, watching the eyes of the victim go from horror to emptiness made me cry like a baby. Seeing the “lights go out” of a human being is ghastly. I`ve never seen something so brutal, so inhumane, so callous.

I had to talk to my pastor about it. I felt sick. My pastor asked me why I watched the videos. He knew I had suffered from an incident in my own life that had left me with PTSD. I said that I wanted to know why. He told me I should never watch these types of videos ever again. I listened to his advice. I realized I didn’t need to see the actual violence to find the answer to my questions. At times I felt a bit weird about my need to investigate these crimes of humanity. I felt like I held some dark secret. I was walking in the darkness of civilization. I was swimming through oceans of time and washing up on the same blood stained beaches. I found no innocence among mankind. Viciousness was the best synonym for man.

But then, I wanted to know the underlying motivation of people: power, greed, and wealth, sex, and hate—yes to all! These are the reasons that human beings can be so damn cruel to one another. The more I looked, the more I found that, like the great King Solomon said, “There`s nothing new under the sun,” I began to see that human history was nothing more than a great big mess. It was filled with violence, greed, class warfare, murder, theft, abuse, slavery, and every other form of evil and violence I could imagine. No culture, race, nation state, or creed was innocent of the crimes of humanity. Every culture or race had at one time or another been guilty.

I watched historical documentaries as I studied, and I would see people talking about Rome, Britain, France, Spain, and America (among others) as if these were the great white sharks of history. They seem to ignore the violence and slavery that was measured out by other cultures and races like the Mayans, The Jews, the Arabs, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Indian nations of North America, and so on. I realized that the answer was real simple: evil, selfishness, and violence is a problem of the human heart.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT).

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So, it was here that I was led on my journey. It was in this simple verse of the Holy Bible that I found the answer to my question of “why?” Now…how do we fix it?

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S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~

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