It seems to be a signature of our times that we are aware of great suffering in the world like never before. Adding to the terrible conditions of war, poverty, hunger and lack of medical care or shelter is the knowledge that things could be otherwise. Human beings cause other human beings to suffer, out of greed, hatred, fear, their own insecurity, childhood trauma.
But why? Why do human beings allow themselves to be swayed by evil?
We are working toward a time when people will be able to act out of freedom. If it were impossible for a human being to sink into the powers of evil, then love in freedom would also be impossible. We have to be able to decide on the good, to be able also to give up what we “want” for the good of the whole. There is no one who can say that he or she has not ever told a lie, said something hurtful, acted out of pure selfish motivation. We all know this journey and this struggle pretty well. How shall we work our way through to another way of being?
We can practice courage. In every instance when we shy away from speaking out when we could intervene in an injustice, when we are not authentic, when we do not defend someone who is being oppressed or put down, when we “look the other way” instead of facing the cruelty in front of us. Courage is not the eradication of fear; it is going forward in spite of it.
When suffering comes our way, instead of asking, “why me,” we could ask, “why not me?” There are perhaps deep lessons here, leading to compassion, understanding and insight. Let my suffering work on my heart which has become dull and unresponsive.
And lastly, we can draw our courage from those who are suffering far more than we are. We can offer our compassion, our prayers and our solidarity with them. Perhaps this is the beginning of feeling that we are united with every human being down to our bones and blood, through Christ, who carries us all. Let His universal love show us the way.
by Carol Kelly
Painting by Wolf Kahn