Brave for me, J.M. Robison, an otherwise obscure fantasy author, to say that, huh?
I went camping 3 months ago. I went camping for a specific goal, and this ties into my We Were Not Born Broken blog series. I had to hike into my camping spot, about 1/8 of a mile away from my car, so the only thing I could bring with me was what I could carry. I'm a 5'6" 148lb female. I can't carry a lot. So this forced me to eliminate things for weight and space. My specific goal for this camping trip was to be as natural as possible, to return to that natural man that I talked about on the Happy Healing 2 U podcast (the natural man is what I consider to be the first Adam -- the first human on earth and having access to literally only the things nature can provide). And for this trip, I asked myself, what does the natural man have or not have? A tent, for one. For another, natural man does not have any aired-up or foam sleep pad. Of course I could have gone camping completely naked and afraid to be exactly like the natural man, but I did want to enjoy my time and I did still want to be alive come morning.
My campsite was not one designated by the park. Nothing was pre-established and I couldn't point in the direction to the nearest bathroom. I checked into my campsite, and then it was literally up to my own powers to provide myself shelter. I checked the direction of the wind and built a lean-to to, if not to block out rain, which it would have helped, but to break up the wind. This took care of my shelter. For my sleep pad, I cut off pine boughs and laid them where I intended to sleep. This helped give me some padding, deter bugs, and keep me dry come morning dew.
I woke up the next morning and my back did not hurt. That's significant because my back hurts every morning at home when I sleep on my bed. I felt so much better sleeping on the ground than I do on my bed.
Of course, I had some inconveniences during my camping trip, such as my fingernails were filled with dirt, and I cut my palm open with my knife while shaving a branch into a spear in case I was beset about by wolves or other carnivores. I thought back to my ancestors, humanity’s first ancestors living on this Earth, and they had nothing we had. They had to kill an animal to get the skin to make clothes, they had to hunt and gather, build shelters with sticks, and they had to struggle making sure they attained fresh water and what if they were injured? They didn’t have first aid.
They had to fight to survive every day making sure animals didn’t eat them, making sure they didn’t eat the wrong animal and die, and all these survival things, and I thought to myself, maybe I am supposed to be privileged living in a house, having a bed, sitting in nice chairs, going to the grocery store, being protected, and all these modern conveniences because my ancestors earned it for me. They likely had no expectation that, having reached this point, I would revert back to struggling just like they did. And then I questioned: did God give the ancients trials? I don't see why he would, because surviving on earth WAS their trial. Surviving was HARD. So God likely didn't throw additional trials at them. I'm certain, instead, he did damage control on those trials they were naturally given by the early timing of their birth.
And then I look at me, and other people in general living today with me, and I think: are we supposed to enjoy these modern conveniences having been earned to us by our ancestors having worked up to this point for us?
The answer I feel? No. Specifically, the distinct answer that came to me while camping was, we, as humanity, were never meant to have become soft. And that relates back to what I said about waking up without back pain, and how I connect that back to sleeping on my bed at the house does give me back pain. It’s because my back muscles are weak and soft. I don’t use them! My whole life I’ve been sitting in chairs that give me back support so I don’t have to use my own back muscles to support myself upright. However, if you don’t use a muscle, you lose it. Same with shoes and how these cushy shoes with arch supports have weakened the muscles in our feet and now our feet muscles are weak and soft and that is why we have foot pain.
Again the question: am I earned this privilege to live in modern society with beds and chairs?
To a point -- so long as I don’t allow these tools to make me soft. And that’s why God gives humanity trials today because we have gotten soft. We have become lazy because we don’t have to fight for our survival, build our houses out of sticks, hunt, or gather. We buy whatever we want, eat whatever we want, go to the grocery store, or you now have the choice to order your groceries and someone else will bring them to you! God does not want us soft. He wants us strong. He wants us useful. He wants us to know and believe in things. He wants us to have opinions and continue growing our success as humanity. However, I see pathways humanity is taking to regress as a species. I never thought we came from monkeys but I think we’re now turning into monkeys because we’re soft, we don’t need to struggle like our ancestors, so I think God sends us trials to keep all of us from becoming softer. And if you’re really soft and really fighting against hardening yourself then God will send you trials to make you a little tougher in areas he thinks you need.
So back when the ancients were struggling a lot, I’m certain they relied on God a lot with prayers, saying, “Please protect me from being eaten by an animal today, please help me find food and water, please help me not get sick and die from this infection on this cut on my hand.” They relied on him a lot. Now in a society where we don’t need to survive and we have everything and more, we don’t have a reason to pray and rely on God, and I think that’s another reason for trials: we need to remember that he is God. Because he wants us to return to him, we need to rely on God indefinitely, but if we don’t have trials, there is no reason to rely on him. I do think our society has lost something vital to humanity by becoming as soft as we are, by forgetting how to build a fire, shelter, find water. And this, in turn, is how a species gradually destroys itself.