If you want to find a profession or a career that will keep you busy, become a sociologist. They research and report on the world we live in, and there's plenty to observe and study — for example, the human behavior of making a "contingency plan" — a course of action to take when life takes an unexpected turn.
Every businessman has a back-up plan to recover from financial troubles. Every army has an exit strategy to retreat from a battle. To "expect the un-expected" and prepare a back-up plan is widely considered to be a good strategy for self preservation.
UNEXPECTED LIFE EVENTS ARE PART OF LIFE
Sometimes we only think about contingency planning
when we're forced to do so:
- A worker may quit his job when he sees his career has stagnated.
- A worker may be fired from his job unexpectedly.
- A businessman may cut his losses by ending a bad business venture.
- A married couple may seek divorce to end a relationship in decline.
Though it might be reasonable to have a back-up plan, it's not often considered a life priority. People like to live with an un-hampered, airy optimism that they won't be in the statistical group of "those who get stung".
But, it can happen to the best of us.
When faced with life's reverses, people experience shock, denial, dismay, anxiety and distress — then search for scapegoats. We're startled at the implications of unexpected life events — they shatter our self image of mastery and control. We mourn the loss of our dignity. We wonder if we'll ever recover. Ultimately we're humbled and sobered as we adjust to our new reality.
ACCEPTING A GIFT GRACIOUSLY
To the G-d minded person, life's challenges are seen as a gift from G-d. They're sent to us as a sign that it's time to review our lives, adjust our behaviors and look for better options. Ultimately our challenges force us to turn to G-d for guidance. We pray, we hope, we pray some more. And with each prayer we admit to ourselves that G-d is the source of our challenges, and is the only source of our solution. The end result is that we develop a relationship with G-d.
WHAT'S YOUR PLAN?
Even though we don't know what is in store after we pass to the next world, we do know how to prepare for it. A life centered on Torah deeds (Mitzvot) gives us practice in relating to G-d every day.
Through our deeds and our prayers we make a "Dira B'Tachtonim" — essentially an earthly manifestation of God's highest plans. It's our public testimony and our personal admission that He's in charge of everything, at every place and time.
These ideas seem lofty and hard to grasp.
That's why it's all been codified for us in the form of Jewish law — Halacha — so even if we don't get the big picture, at least we're fulfilling the essential details. The end result is that the Jewish people draw down into this world a holiness — a Kedushah — that adds stability to this world and brings spiritual merit to us, and to the Jewish people.
RELATIONSHIP PLANNING vs. CONTINGENCY PLANNING
Contingency Plans, Exit Strategies and the like are all made on speculation. Meaning, we don't know for sure that we'll need to resort to our back-up plans, but we make them — just in case.
To contrast, there is one event that we will all face eventually — our passing from this world to the next. Since it makes good sense to have a back-up plan for living, it is surely wise to prepare for what comes after. Far from being a grim topic, we happily trust G-d's promise of abundant reward in the next world for our good deeds in this world. This is a central principle in Jewish life and lifestyle.
More important than a Contingency Plan in case of problems is a Relationship Plan that puts G-d as the focus.