Children often ask the question: “Why does God let bad things happen?”
Usually these questions come in the face of seeing a homeless person, a car accident, experiencing a divorce, or a parent losing a job. The adults around them will answer with phrases like, “Everything happens for a reason,” or, if they are hardened and jaded, “Shit happens.”
These answers fail to address the underlying issue, which is that, if he ever did, God has no part in the majority of our suffering anymore.
Think for a moment about all of the problems that mar our world. Things like hunger and poverty come to mind, or perhaps global warming, or problems in politics, or crime, or pollution, unemployment, inadequate schools, expensive housing, expensive food. The list could go on and on… But chances are, every single one of the problems that come to your mind were created by mankind. Chances are, things that did not come to mind are the difficulties of keeping a fire going so you don’t freeze to death in the winter, or that boar that always escapes your arrows and leaves your stomach gnawing in hunger. If they did, then I truly applaud you for reading this blog, as your ability to access the internet in spite of your lifestyle is a testament to human ingenuity.
Forget your concept of God. Leave behind that word’s association with the Church, or with that deity you don’t believe in, etc. etc. Instead, think of God as nature, what we come from, what we have mastered more than any species currently existing on the planet, and what we have built a safe haven from, only to go camping in it on random weekends to nourish ourselves in a way that being surrounded by concrete buildings 24/7 cannot.
No matter geographical location and proximity to an urban area, if you live in the modern world, a ridiculously high percentage of your existence is spent in a man-made space and time. We wake up to the blaring of man-made alarm-clock ticking to a man-made concept of time, take a shower in our man-made homes, drive to work in our man-made cars, spend our days in the confines of our man-made jobs meeting man-made deadlines and snacking on man-made food. Billboards around us advertise man-made products, which trigger a response in us based on man-made values, concepts of confidence, sexuality (God did not invent spray tans and bikinis) and status. Our buying into this supports a man-made economy, which supports our man-made lifestyles, and so on and so on.
The point is, God, that all powerful deity many people credit with all the good and bad that happens in our lives, has very little to do with the bad things that happen to us on a daily basis. Granted, the society we live in is encapsulated by the natural world, but all the idiosyncrasies, red-tape, scheduling and so forth that causes so much stress in our lives are made entirely by people like you and me. If you look at the world around you, or simply the structure of your individual life, and see chaos and pain and stress and general hellishness, just know that we are responsible for it.
Maslow broke down a hierarchy of human needs, starting with basic needs like shelter and food and extending all the way up to self actualization. The hierarchy is in the shape of a pyramid, with each level of needs building upon one another once they are fulfilled. Though this man-made society we live in affords us the comfort of food, and warm shelter, and people around us with whom to relate and love, and vehicles for us to achieve fulfillment within all of this, to a large extent, we live in Hell, and it’s entirely man-made. In regards to this hell-status of our society, I refer again to homelessness, and the imprisoning stress of our jobs, the poor quality of our food, which is poisoning the populace, the strain of consumerism and the havoc our quest for fulfillment has wrought on the environment.
But how did we get this way? It’s perfectly easy to understand. If we examine our own lives, we’ve made as many good decisions as we have bad decisions, we’ve failed to take the extra step at times, and others gone above and beyond. We’ve succeeded, we’ve failed, we’ve survived and continued on, making due with the circumstances we are in. The entire human race has a life as well, and it’s been around long enough for its cogency and fallacies to have a considerably gigantic impact on the world it inhabits.
What do we do to change this? The enemies to the good existence our species is capable of are the very enemies that stop us from individually thriving on a daily basis. Lack of time, lack of resources… More importantly, it is our reaction to these things that hold us back. Balking at the constraints we live under breeds malcontent, which breeds the desire to cut corners, or to not even succeed, or to develop a way around the obstacle that is unfortunately detrimental to our environment or our health.
We have a language now for how to live in balance with our environment, controlling our mind and our reactions to that environment so that we succeed in spite of obstacles and without creating imbalances in our lives or the lives of those around us. Whether you call it the science of thought, or positive thinking, it is a way of living that allows one to take full responsibility for their lives and their circumstances, and more and more people are striving to live this way every single day. And where people have taken responsibility and done the work to correct an imbalance, inventions free of angry, frustrated energy can grow and contribute to the world in a pure, harmonious way.
Nature is still hidden underneath the concrete and pavement that surrounds us. Heaven is inside the cracks in the road, in the trees that line our streets, in the cogs of the ticking clock, in the spark of creativity in the billboard advertisement. The surface world is filled with so many problems, but if withhold our knee-jerk, frustrated reactions to this, all the goodness underneath is going to come and meet you.
People exactly like us made the world that we live, and people exactly like us have the power to change it.