We seem to live in a world more and more subject to suffering.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed.
Responding to suffering has become part of our regular experience each day, each week.
As I sat and watched the news flash images of the devastation in Nepal, It occurred to me that each week we must decide how to respond to the latest tragedy in the world.
We are all so connected now, like never before in history.
The world has become “ONE” through the invention of technology.
A thousand years ago, we here in the American Continent would never have even known that there had been an earthquake in Nepal…
But we do!
So how do we respond?
And what about all the violence in Boston?
Are you on the side of the police, or on the side of the minorities?
The amount of media coverage on this subject has made us all part of the battle, and we as humans will naturally pick a side.
One of the unfortunate consequences of being human is that people suffer.
Whether our friends,
or someone we have never met on the other side of the world.
Our hearts and our minds are filled with images of distress and devastation.
Each new tragedy pushes those that went before it into the background.
Some suffering is outside our immediate control.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis arrive without warning and with immediacy.
We do what we can to anticipate and prepare for the devastation they cause.
We then begin the work of responding well after they have taken their toll.
We offer assistance and, when we can, we help suffering people in person.
Some suffering is caused by people.
We employ violence as a weapon, as a tool of public policy.
We impose suffering on other people to further our own ends. People take hostages, and execute them.
People inflict injustices on other people, and those people express their frustrations and anger.
We abuse each other, acting as though we can solve our problems with force.
So where does that leave us?
Do we have any hope of ever finding a solution to all the tragedy in the world?
I honestly believe that we as humans work hard to respond to suffering wisely.
I think that for the most part, humans are basically good.
Yet, turn on the news and you will see countless images of humans being portrayed as if we are all selfish animals.
Lets take for example the police officers that serve and protect us all.
Why is it that the news only tells us stories of the few isolated incidents where someone is hurt, or killed by an officer?
Why don’t the stories of their kindness and heroism make headlines?
There are literally MILLIONS of police officers in America working around the clock 365 days a year to ensure our safety.
They volunteer in our schools.
They go above and beyond the call of duty constantly because they love what they do.
Why aren’t we hearing about all those stories?
If you take the hand full of lives that have been lost at the hands of our police officers, and compare that to all the lives that have been saved…
The scales would tip dramatically on the side of goodness.
So why are we so mad at the men and women who literally put their lives on the line for complete strangers for very little pay?
I think it is a question that deserves to be considered.
Let’s take a minute and think about the reality of humanity.
Some of us sacrifice our own desires to contribute to respond when other people suffer.
Some of us organize efforts to help people who need it.
We may put ourselves in other people’s places, feeling their suffering.
We may see ourselves as potential future sufferers.
Some of us change the direction of their lives to help meet the needs of suffering people every day.
Like I stated earlier…
I believe that we as humans really are basically good.
Responding to suffering is difficult, and extremely valuable work.
Most of us are willing to pray and work out how we can best respond.
Much of life is a mystery, but the mystery of suffering often seems much harder for us to embrace.
When wonderful things happen to us, it is usually easier for us to accept them (we don’t often ask ourselves “what did I do to deserve this?”).
Although we cannot fully understand suffering, it is a part of our lives.
So the question again becomes…
How should we respond?
There are two approaches to suffering,
one which brings us to love and life
and one which brings us to despair.
I would love to hear your thoughts about today’s subject.
How do you respond to suffering in the world?
Where is the suffering that is drawing you to respond?