taken to calling it the “R word.” But sherndidn’t have the time to come up with anotherrnword —and besides, it was euphonic.rn(Maybe what she meant was that itrnwould sell.)rnToo late; whether she likes it or not,rnwords can take on a life of their own.rnAnd random means random. Myrnunabridged and certainly non-randomrnRandom House Dictionary defines thernword as “without definite aim, reason, orrnpattern.” There’s no reason, then, whyrnwe shouldn’t treat Polly Klass’s killer to arnnight on the town, a good steak, and hisrnfreedom; random would certainly includernhim. Why shouldn’t we rewardrndrug pushers with college scholarships?rnOr better yet, bring them home for a nicernchat so they can strike up a friendshiprnwith the kids?rnAny society that finds randomly rewardingrnothers desirable is in real trouble. It isrnmade up of the same sophists who sportrnT-shirts that read: “S—t Happens.”rnSure it does. But so does grace. And sorndo mercy, understanding, and —if we’rernlucky—wisdom.rnThe idea that practicing random actsrnof kindness is fitting presupposes that wernhave neither the intelligence nor thernright to encourage, reward, or celebraternthose who desen’e or need our aid. Thernflip side, of course, is that we also shouldrnnot use our powers of discriminafion tornshun bad people, or, at the very least, lookrnlong and hard before aiding them (barringrnrescue from physical peril).rnThat would mean that we would bernjudging others, and \ho are we to sit inrnjudgment? Doesn’t the Bible say to judgernnot, lest we be judged? This judgmentrnthing is scary. A&er all, it’s possible we’llrnmake mistakes. We might not always bernable to tell a good thing from a bad thing,rnor a good person from a bad one.rnIt is true that sometimes we’re stupid,rnflawed, uninformed, and morally stunted;rnwe do make bad decisions. Howeer,rnour human condifion should be regardedrnas a privilege, not an excuse. Wernshould do what people have always done:rnMake the best decisions and choose thernbest courses under what T.S. Eliot calledrn”conditions that seem unpropitious.”rnThe idea that we ought to leave our decisionsrnto randomness is a sign that we’rernin trouble. The inabilit)’ to judge, to decide,rnhighlights the absence of sharedrngoals and values. Our eyes are no longerrnon the prize—anv prize. In fact, there nornlonger is a prize; we now believe therernprobably never was one. There is onlyrnthe ongoing process of day-to-day living.rnAt best, we can hope only to survive for arntime —and then we die. There is nothingrnoutside the self; there is no reason beyondrnthe will. Decadence, writes C.E.M.rnJoad, is the loss of an object. Many of usrnnow have no object, no objective. Wernhold nothing as an absolute, a criterion.rnIn such circumstances, randomnessrnmakes sense. The reasoning runs somethingrnlike this: “Bad things happen to me;rngood things, too, but rareU’. I don’t deservernbad things, but I can’t stop themrnfrom happening. My own life is so far outrnof my own control that fliere is no purposernin my attempt to change it or assertrnany direction. I am a victim of randomrnoccurrences, and so is everyone else.rnRandom acts of kindness are the onlyrngoods left to me and those with whom Irnshare my life.”rnIf we choose, we can gie up all controlrn—but why would we want to? As bystanders,rnwill we permit acts of brutalit)’?rnWould I allow my children to suffer arnrandom fate if I could —by my own actionsrn—prevent it? What kind of parentrnwould? “Oh, Junior’s out crawling in thernstreet again. He might get hit. He mightrnnot. It’s real random out there.” Lifernmeans action, including the action ofrnAre You a Member of The Rockford Institute ?rnWiHiklii’l Ncii like ID kiun wli.il Cliioiiu h’ ctliloi^ Jdrnwhen llic”iv nol wiiliiiii oi ( hioiiu U ‘ I’ui j i.irnJeJiii-liblo inciiihcisliip Jonalioii ol S25. oi willrnn.'(.eie llie lnsiiiiiic c]iMilcil piiblKMliiMi. Mam Sim IrnMcinoiaiulitiii. MUII SDUK’C IOI .ill ilic iKiid-hilliiiii i.omiiK-nLiirn.IIKI Rockloid liisliliilc news iluii L-.ni’l In in the pages ol ^/rnC liinnii /(‘s. To |()in. send a elieek loi S25 lo’rn’I’RI Mc’iiihershiprn928 North Main StreetrnRockford. IL 61103rnAUGUST 2001/43rnrnrn