Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Continue to Happen to Good People?

Cancer, car crashes producing disabling and fatal injuries, relationship breakdowns, bullying, home invasions, assaults and depression all have one unfair thing in common—they often feature bad things happening to good people; and no matter what people say or do in response to these things it means very little really in the overall analysis—it still happens whether we like it or not. The pain borne is horrendous and just doesn’t seem to make sense.

We know this and to a large extent we accept it—as much as we can, anyway. There’s little else we can do. Or so it seems.

One thing most of us don’t account for is the nature of cause and effect—this is a universal law relating to the inherent “justice” of things. One thing happens, and in turn, it then causes another directly (or indirectly) related event to occur. One event causes another event; first cause, then the effect, a.k.a. the ‘domino effect.’

So, how do we apply this theory, which works every time in practice (give or take), to something like cancer? Our bodies have the propensity to get sick—be it in a million different ways, for an equally almost-infinite amount of causes. The human genome, genetically-speaking, is flawed.

There are all sorts of theories for this from theological theories to the medical etc. Notwithstanding this, bodies get sick—from the common cold to cancer and every variation between.

This information doesn’t help us in dealing with our “issues” with why bad things continue to happen to good people, but it does help in one way.

It helps us understand the very complex nature of why bad things happen in the first place. We’re often not entirely at fault, but by virtue of being alive (simply existing) or of behaving in certain ways (some of which are patently innocuous) we are part of the problem. We often cannot help this. We’re victims of circumstance.

When bad things happen to good people—people who’ve overtly done nothing wrong—we tend to overly simplify the problem, wanting to shield the person and their close ones suffering the injustice, and we don’t want to account truthfully for the complexities of the issue at hand. However, this still doesn’t really help us much.

All we can really do is attempt to understand the complexities and then work with them the best we can. This involves the notion of curiosity and learning—a tremendously powerful mindset toward the most positive of life outcomes; in the worst of circumstances.

We must at some stage begin to understand and accept—and indeed move on from—bad things when they occur. This is not really about denying realities but it’s about approaching harsh realities courageously and humbly—i.e. truthfully.

It’s about coming to accept the harmony in the discord. This, of course, is easier said than done. The theory, however, motivates the practice—always has; always will.

Cause and effect: a science of the wisdom; a reality we cannot beat; something we can only accept—that or potentially go mad—an altogether futile outcome.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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