Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What's Wrong with the World?

Two fundamental things are essential to figuring out what is wrong with the world--original sin and universal suffering. Original sin is the natural, built-in tendency to prefer our own good--as individuals, societies, institutions, nations, etc.--to the good of others. Universal suffering means that all have known some form of human affliction--pain, accident, circumstances, disease, sorrow, failure, oppression, etc.--that take away in various degrees our joy and happiness. Suffering results from causes arising out the nature of things -- natural evil, and out of the harm we do to each other -- moral evil.

What is the solution? We have to recognize that that all --we and others--are afflicted with both egotism and suffering. This must be accompanied by the desire for understanding that leads to compassion for others.

To focus on moral evil, the typical dialogue between individuals and groups about our conflicts is that each has its own narrative and an explanation of its own suffering and injustice, which is not a dialogue but two monologues in which each party yells out its own story and does not hear or care to hear the story of others. Consider: abortion, same-sex marriage, the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, the US and North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan, Venezuela, and on and on and on.

The problem: nobody listens to the other. The solution: genuine listening, which leads to a sharing of the truth and suffering of the other, which can ideally lead to understanding, which produces compassion, followed by repentance, which can result in good faith efforts to resolve issues in a way that enlarges the truth shared by all and the suffering endured by all.

My text has been: Repent and believe the Gospel, which being translated means. Come to terms with the fact that we have all screwed up, some more badly than others, repent in sorrow, and therefore become open to the possibility of hearing the good news that a better future for all is waiting to be born if we are willing to receive it in faith, hope, and love.

Now I have diagnosed the problem and offered the solution. It is up to others to begin working this out in practical ways. Meanwhile, I have to write another blog resolving other pressing issues. Global warming is next on my list. Good luck.


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