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The problem of good

 

Barely a week goes by without opening my BBC News app and reading of another mass killing or terrorist attack. I suspect many others are the same in their despondency and sense of hopelessness with the darkness we are confronted with. Berlin, Nice, Syria… where will it end?  Or perhaps it won’t?

I know I’m not alone in questioning what is going on and how on earth we respond. I’ve considered many ways of responding.  Often my preference is to say nothing on social media, but this passage I read the other day by Richard Rohr struck me as a very tangible and unexpected solution.

“We are made for transcendence and endless horizons, but our small ego gets in the way until we become aware of its petty preoccupations and eventually seek a deeper truth.

We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve ‘the problem of evil’, yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is ‘the problem of good’. How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in this world?  Tackling this problem will achieve much better results.”

I don’t believe that we have really understood what goodness is. Where does it come from?  Like love, how can we account for it?

Evil is very apparent. But are we focusing in the wrong direction?

Perhaps the answers to the darkness in the world is to turn our attention to understanding goodness. As Richard Rohr suggests; if we all took responsibility for answering ‘the problem of good’ this would achieve much better results.

So as we look back on what has no doubt been a challenging, traumatic and sad year for the world in many ways, we’re also now being invited to come together in the spirit sharing, love and understanding this Christmas.

If evil exists (which in my experience it clearly does) how and where are we now being called to choose good?  And what happens when we, as a species, choose good because that is our essential nature?

Just as teenagers grow out of those destructive and selfish habits, humanity now has the opportunity – in fact the responsibility – to grow beyond our selfish ways and understand our place in the cosmos.

As Jack Jezreel, founder of JustFaith puts it “personal transformation and social transformation are one piece.”

How each of us individually resolves the problem of good has enormous ramifications for ourselves, our families, communities and even the world.