I imagine that many of us feel sadness for the suffering of other people or even animals, that unbidden tears come to our eyes. During the invasion of Ukraine I, and I know many others, have been saddened deeply by the Ukranian’s suffering and destruction of their homes and lives. We want their suffering to stop and for their lives to return to normal somehow. But then we remember there is suffering all over the world.
There will always be suffering of one kind or another in this world. This earth is not heaven nor is it perfect nor is it hell. The Earth, I believe, is the place where we can learn, grow, gain wisdom, find out who we really are, and either accept or change ourselves into who we should become before we leave this world.
In the movie “The Shack” by William P. Young, a father struggles with the kidnapping, rape and death of his young daughter by a man who suffered horribly at the hands of his own father. Actor Sam Worthington, portrays the father of the little girl, and ends up at “The Shack” where he has a conversation with God, who presents himself to the father as a loving, maternal, black lady, portrayed by Octavia Spencer. The following quote may give some understanding.
““Nobody knows what horrors I have saved the world from ‘cuz people can’t see what never happened. All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone that I love, those who follow me and those who don’t. If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibilities of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.”
I have always been very sensitive to the pain of others. I learned this sensitivity from my father, who quoted the following to us, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” (Written first by Mary T. Lathrap poem from 1895.) This line is ingrained in my heart as a reminder to try to have some empathy for others and what they are going through. According to Oxford Languages, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Think how different the world could be if we actually tried to understand how our fellow humans think or even feel. What about trying just to figure out what’s going on that makes so many people angry, disenfranchised, mentally ill from their lives’ bad choices (or just bad things that hurt them emotionally). Maybe some of the people some of us hate or don’t like are hurting so badly that they can’t even talk about it. They don’t know how to put their life, experiences, or feelings into words.
If we can care enough about others to understand a little of who they are, what they have lived through and what they feel behind their beliefs, we might just see a different person than the one we think we know. No one knows what everyone else has gone through in their lives. Let’s try to understand the “other” person and treat them as we would like to be treated, if we had been through those circumstances.
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But all to often there are those who do not love or appreciate themselves. Some even hate themselves. Some of us are never satisfied with our accomplishments, our homes, our clothes, our hair, our own selves. I know that Jesus was telling us to love ourselves too. We all came from the same origins, regardless of what we believe. Essentially we are a world of family members. We just have different cultures, clothing, names, and countries to live in but we are a family with a lot of trouble between its members.
I want very much to believe that we can learn to get along someday. It may take centuries but some day, perhaps we will love or at least get along with our co-habitants or family members of this world. Please think about trying to accept others as they are without judging and criticizing their differences or trying to argue with them to change their minds. Instead why not try to come to a middle ground of, at the very least, acceptance. At the higher ground, to come to a point where all can agree or feel respected. You will never change another person by telling them what you think they should do, hating them, or forcing your opinion on them. But you can change people with love, acceptance and showing them, by the way you treat them and others how to be helpful, kind and loving. The World needs more LOVE.