Why does evil exist?
Why do people hurt others, physically and emotionally? Why are there murders and burglaries, rapes and other atrocities? We all know life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
People are in pain, and they lash out. Or they act with good intentions and end up hurting people anyway. Or something happens that makes no sense.
Sometimes, situations that don’t involve us evoke painful emotions. When violence in Ferguson, Missouri erupted after a police officer shot an unarmed man, the anger entered my home. My husband and I argued because we disagreed on who was to blame.
The anger entered our lives through the television set, and in turn, I felt angry at the anger. I felt conflicted — ignore the television set and the news or allow my passion to ignite a fight?
My husband and I continued to debate even though we kept agreeing not to talk about it anymore. We each had strong opinions and couldn’t let go.
So what’s a spiritual person to do? Ignore the cause of discomfort in an effort to be peaceful? Or sit with it and try to stay calm and compassionate while standing my ground?
I thought about the people in Ferguson, angry and acting out. They have every right to be angry, but the violence brings only more violence. Their anger results in other angry people, and the cycle continues.
Looking deeply, I now realize my anger was caused by guilt. Guilt for being born into a white, upper middle-class family while others live in poverty and violence.
I don’t know why this is. Life isn’t fair. All I can do is be compassionate.
Think of Mother Nature, and how simultaneously beautiful and merciless she is. The ocean gives infinite hours of joy and entertainment, allowing us to swim in her waves and contemplate her immensity. But those same waves have drowned unfortunate souls; that same boundlessness has swallowed many a capsized ship and fallen airplane.
Being alive sometimes involves unfathomable pain, and we can’t quite grasp the truth that life isn’t fair. That some people are born rich and others poor, some born beautiful and others plain.
We rail against God or the Universe for not fulfilling our desires, for taking away our loved ones, for giving us painful experiences when all we want is to feel joy. One day we may feel guilty for having food to eat while children starve. The next, we covet someone’s private jet and lavish vacations.
In this roller coaster, all we can do is feel it all and try to find peace.
Our biggest job is to use pain as a catalyst to look deeper, accept it without holding on. Watch our emotions and try not to judge others or ourselves. We all do the best we know how.
Stay true to yourself without making excuses for yourself.
We still deserve to be happy even though life isn’t fair. Nevertheless, we’re also called to engage in the world, including its problems, peacefully. We cannot stand aside and let people suffer because it interferes with our inner peace.
Conversely, we cannot allow ourselves to become angry in the name of speaking against injustice. This adds to the world’s pain. Let us work to bring peace.
The pain becomes a catalyst; it helps us transform darkness into light, anger into compassion. Pain is the entire reason for our spiritual journey, the journey that teaches us joy and peace.
Personal growth, social change and spiritual development come from painful emotions. If people were happy all the time, there’d be nothing to grow from. Pain and violence force us to look within, find the peace in our heart no matter what the circumstances.
Our efforts at peace will not be perfect, but they will not be for naught.
Life isn’t fair, will never be fair, and it’s not our job as humans to level the playing field. Our only job is to accept our trials with strength and our privileges with gratitude.
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