The other enormous question that religion is responsible for helping us with is what to make of the “evil” that we see in the world. Why do bad things happen? Not just to good people but to any people.
I was thinking about this because of the recent school shooting here in the states. It seems like every few months we’re hearing about another case of someone shooting into crowds of students. And our minds boggle to try to understand how such a thing can happen even once, let alone every few weeks.
I have a bit of an unusual take on good and evil.
I see those two sides as part of the illusion of the experience of the world and I think the balance and play between these two “sides” keeps things moving, providing momentum. I don’t see anything as evil. I see things that hold souls back from peace and happiness. And those things should be avoided when possible. But when horrible things happen within this life, it isn’t reality. It’s part of the story that we’re acting out.
However, as with losing a loved one to death, it is easier to see this in theory than in practice.
When I hear about children being murdered, it does make me sad. I am lucky in that I believe with all my heart that those souls will be reborn and get more chances at having a productive life. But it is a tragedy to have that opportunity cut short. I also feel for the parents who had such hopes for those kids.
- I remember a story about a wise man who wept when someone died. His follower asked why he was upset when he knew that in reality death is an illusion. The wise man said that he mourns when it is appropriate to mourn. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to feel that and let it be what it is.
- I do think that everything happens for a reason, but that attitude can cause a victim blaming effect and I don’t want that. It’s too easy for us to think that the children died because it was their fate to die. I don’t want to think that way. I want to do my best to prevent that kind of unhappiness. It isn’t my job to dismiss the suffering of others because it was “meant to be.” I’m not omniscient. I don’t know that. And even if I do, people suffering for any reason is a bad thing and those people need comfort, not to be dismissed.
- Perhaps this is part of love that is not attached. If we are in the present moment and not thinking of the future, then the lose of life wouldn’t feel like the lose of all the future possibilities of that child? If we can love in a way that is not attached to keeping and hanging on to that child perhaps we can see how their soul is simply moving forward towards its next goal? But that sounds pretty harsh. I don’t know if anyone could really have such an attitude about her or his own child. And we are designed to love our children in a very attached way.
Those who experienced that lose got a set back in their quest for peace, joy, and enlightenment. And to me that is the real problem with “evil” acts.
One thing I can say for certain, I don’t believe that there are any evil people. Evil acts, perhaps, but people are inherently divine. I think what causes people to behave in hurtful ways is an effect of ignorance. When we don’t have a wide view of who we are, we can become very threatened. We can feel like we need to lash out at others, as though there is a competition with others. There are a lot of people are operating from a real misunderstanding of the world.
What do you think? Where does evil come from? Why do bad things happen? How do you respond to tragedy in your community?