In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened. - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
We all have deep questions that find their way to the surface in times of tragedy and trauma.
Why did this happen?
Why do people do the things they do?
When will we start to act like the best versions of ourselves?
Where is God in all of this?
As much as I have faith in humanity’s ability to go above and beyond for their fellow citizens, I am also aware that in a moment of insanity we are capable of the most heinous acts.
In these times we search for an explanation, often reverting to the age-old blame game of victimisation by playing the ‘totally depraved’ card or finding a scapegoat in the form of a Demonised other. While this can help us find some relief in the moment it is only temporary, as there is no absolute or satisfying answer as to why bad things happen. Sometimes you just can’t explain away an unimaginable tragedy.
A selfish evil hides in all of us. A healthy dose of morality and common sense restrains our willingness to act on it, but when our conscience fails us, the damage that we can do is deplorable. As far back as the Cain and Abel story we see our potential to take matters into our own hands without any kind of rational consideration for the ramifications. As Martin Luther King said, there is both good and evil in all of us - and it seems that we are all hardwired in some way to betray that good in a selfish, broken society.
But goodness remains, the very best of human endeavour that seeks to work for the betterment of humanity. When evil happens we can become bogged down in the complexities of injustice or we can step up and do some good despite our lament.
Of course, these altruisms are often easier said than done. Someone needs to be punished for the pain we are feeling. But retribution and vengeance, both perfectly acceptable feelings in times of mourning, will never give us the healing we need.
Yet we still need to be able to air our distress and grievance in the company of our fellow mourners with the honesty and rawness the situation requires.
Maybe hope and radical acts of goodness will be the therapeutic encouragement we need on the journey back to a new normalcy.
The ancient songwriter reminds us that goodness will have the final say and that if we stay with our questions long enough we will see the very best of life push through.
I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth.
Stay with GOD! Take heart. Don't quit.
I'll say it again: Stay with GOD
- Psalm 27
May peace and grace comfort you in your time of 'why'