Kadashan: Things don't happen by chance

Posted: Sunday, August 04, 2002

When I was in college I took this Indian Education course. Our instructor was a Native American and he gave us this imposing lecture about the natural laws. He alleged that long before foreigners came to the Americas our people lived with nature. Because we lived with nature we understood the laws of nature;

Kadashan by Bertrand J. Adams Sr.

because we understood the laws of nature we obeyed the natural laws; and because we obeyed these laws the natural world provided us with all we needed to sustain our lives. When the pilgrims came to our shores, Native Americans helped them survive their first winter, teaching them to live with nature. For 200 years these people lived in harmony with one another and with nature. Each year we celebrate Thanksgiving for this purpose.

Our instructor explained that there were outside forces that eventually came to upset that balance. These people were on the outside looking in; their purpose was to enter in and conquer. When they eventually did they caused this turmoil, this culture clash that we are still struggling to overcome today. Now, I believe, this instability has spilled into our entire society.

At the conclusion of his lecture our professor said, "Now it may take some of you a lifetime - others of you will discover this sooner - but when you have learned how we can live within that circle of the natural laws, then you have an obligation to share it with the world."

Now over the many years I have read from the best books (including the Good Book), studied the philosophies of men, pondered in my heart about correct principles, and appealed to the Creator for enough wisdom to share what I discovered about the laws of nature. I do know this: There are principles of life that we must all learn to abide by if we want to enjoy the benefits the Creator has to offer us.

There's this book I read many years ago called "The Chance World." The author demonstrated how everything happened by chance. For example, he showed how, if a person jumped from a cliff, there was a good chance that he might fall up instead of down. He also explained how, if a farmer planted asparagus there was a good chance, when harvest time came, that it might sprout peas or some other thing. He used many other examples as well, but when I finished the book I realized something of great significance: We do not live in a chance world. We, indeed, live in a universe of law and order.

And so I think the challenge we should aspire to is how to better understand these laws so that we can use them for our benefit. For instance, we know that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. We also know at what temperature it boils. We may never know how the water knows when it reaches these temperatures, but it never makes a mistake. My wife and I use this law to our individual advantage every day. I call it the Battle of the Thermostat. My first duty when I get out of bed each day is to adjust the thermostat to a comfortable level. A couple of hours later my wife is up. She adjusts the temperature a few degrees higher. In a while I am sweltering, so I turn in down. When she begins to get uncomfortable, she turns it back up.

Consider, if you will, the planets in the universe. They have their own orbits around the sun; they travel at various speeds, and they never bump into one another. It has always been amazing to me how these order of events function the way they do until I began to do all this researching, studying and pondering in my heart about these things.

Nope! I'm convinced things don't happened by chance. I think this very wise Indian Education professor was challenging us to discover, for ourselves, those principles of truth that apply to everyone, whether we are rich or poor, white or black or otherwise. And when we make any significant discoveries, then we must share them because truth does, indeed, belong to everyone.

Kadashan is the Tlingit name of Bertrand J. Adams Sr., who lives in Yakutat.

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