Why do ‘things‘ happen to ‘people‘?
There’s a blog by Kristian Anderson entitled “How The Light Gets In”, and through it he journals his very personal battle with cancer and the various subsequent treatments and their effects. It’s confronting in its intimacy and honesty, and lays bare the fears that we all have at some time in our lives, yet are mostly too afraid of those fears, to share them. It also begs the obvious and seemingly universal question, “why do bad things happen to good people?”
Recently whilst at a workshop by Master Behram Ghista, I re-read the story of Job (from the Old Testament). Divine intervention that looks for all the world like a competition in which Job is merely the pawn. Will he or won’t he “curse God and die” for all the unhappiness that his faith and loyalty in God has caused. The more he stands against the temptation to give in and be released from his suffering, the more his suffering increases. The end result of Job Part 1, being the loss of his entire fortune and family. Picked off one by one.
Throughout the conversation Job’s friends have regarding why he is being tested so, we hear some common assumptions and seemingly common ethical sense:
– bad things shouldn’t happen to good people
– having good things and experiences means you are good, and therefore deserve them
– good things shouldn’t happen to bad people
– having bad things and experiences means you are bad, and therefore deserve them
– and of course good things make you happy, and bad things make you sad.
So why do bad things happen to good people?
Why things happen, can seem easy. We do something, someone else does something, it has a consequence. No need to expand…. However the risk of oversimplifying the why, is to completely misdiagnose the true cause, and prolong the effect. Sometimes for an entire lifetime. Often we don’t define cause properly, or rather, we don’t keep going to find the cause of the cause of the cause…. as long as the suffering stops for now, we are content.
Direct cause. Smoking damages the body. Stop smoking = stop damaging the body. Easy. But why smoke? What is the cause of that effect? Is it really simply the physical act of smoking that causes us physical harm, or could smoking be the effect of some other cause more at the heart of things, less obvious, more deadly? To define why we do things … we need original cause, not just obvious, logical, direct connections. What causes us to smoke in the first place, probably causes other negative actions as well. How about headaches, or heartburn? Working long hours, stress, eating too fast, never resting, never taking time out. These are not the causes of our physical stress related symptoms. They are the effects of a deeper cause. Why can’t we relax, rest, be at peace, eat slowly…
End of Part 1