We have all seen those videos of baby turtles scuttering across the sand, heading for the safety of the surf and in mortal danger of becoming breakfast for birds. Fast forward to the maternity ward. Did you ever see an animal as helpless as that minuscule newborn howling infant, who will be dead within a few hours unless someone, at least his/her mother, immediately protects and takes constant care of him/her ? The baby turtle, if he survives the sprint to the sea, will instinctively plunge into the water and . . . swim (no one taught him) ! Our little bundle of human flesh cannot walk or even crawl, let alone scutter or swim; by himself, he can’t move an inch. For a long time to come, his/her survival will depend entirely on others. S/he is equipped to become self-sufficient as a human being, but is right now not programmed for anything except breathing, crying, sucking, sleeping, urinating and defecating. A turtle has to fend for himself from the get-go. Our cute little bambino is totally dependent on others for survival.
Most animals and humans instinctively take immediate care of their newborn. But our species has to teach our offspring everything, and provide nurture and protection for far longer than any other species. The lucky ones – you and I – would never have made it this far without parents or their substitutes to assure our survival and development until we could take care of ourselves. From then on, what we become depends very largely on ourselves, on the way we adapt to the cards life has dealt us, and … on luck.
Opportunities and challenges, of course, differ for all of us. Life can be very unfair. Some are shattered by adversity, others manage to overcome it. Some squander the chances they were given, others start from nothing but accomplish their dreams. Some find happiness, others discontent or even despair.
There are people, accustomed for too long to depend on parents and others, who place their hope in the continued support of family and friends, and often in handouts from the State. The majority of people say “In God we Trust”, and some really mean it. Those tiny turtles depend on themselves. Their school of hard knocks begins the moment they emerge from their shell. Their only purpose in life is to survive long enough to procreate. You and I have already survived that long; we may even have procreated. What we do with our lives is up to us. Some manage to get by with a little help from their friends. If we can count on others to help us along, so much the better. God is not one of those others. The sooner we realize that, the faster we will find the courage and the resources to discover freedom and fulfillment. Trust in God, prayer and positive thinking if you will. Realists know better.