There is so much suffering and hatred in this world. It’s easy to watch the news and feel as if the world is coming apart at the seams. But it’s also very easy to distance ourselves from these events. Earthquakes and tsunamis in third world countries render a small tug of the heart that leads us to drop our spare change in the fundraiser collection jar. But then we go about our day unchanged. A school shooting across the country shocks us and may spark debates about gun violence and gun laws or possibly the problem of evil in the world. But then we go about our day unchanged. A woman is raped because a man decided he wanted to “hit that”. A child is aborted because her dignity as a human being was not protected. A man is shot because someone didn’t like the color of his skin. Evil and hatred abound in our world, yet we remain very much unchanged.
After the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I had two initial reactions. The first was to shove this atrocity to the back of my mind. I refused to think about it for a few days. My second reaction was to succumb to the terrible pain and despair for humanity. Both these reactions are normal, human responses to tragedy. But we are called to do more than reflect on tragedies or talk about how terrible they are. We are called to act.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the evil we witness. But we should not focus wholly on the evil in the world or become depressed by it. However, we cannot not ignore it. Apathy and silence allow evil to perpetuate. Only by taking action in our own lives to spread love and peace can we combat the problem of evil.
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Many people do not realize the problems in the world begin within each of us. Everyone has the capacity for good and evil in their hearts. The choices we make and the attitudes we have towards the people around us affect the choices and attitudes of others. When we perform an act of kindness, we
show our love to another human being. I think I can speak for most people that when we our shown love, we want to show love to others. Because the knowledge that we are loved and cared about is one of the best joys in the world. And showing love and kindness to others is an even greater joy.
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We have the choice to either avoid that annoying person or the choice to truly listen to them. We have the choice to remain silent when friends talk about participating in risky behaviors or the choice to suggest another option. We have the choice to participate in language that objectifies women or the choice to respect all men and women with dignity. We have the choice to treat sex like a prize to be won instead of a gift of love. We have the choice to ignore tragedy or the choice to pray for the souls of those involved. We have the choice to incite angry debate or the choice to listen to another’s point of view.
These are just a few examples of the decisions we must make every day. I invite you to reflect on how your actions will be perceived by others and what your intentions are. The small acts of love we give to others do make a difference in their lives. Humanity does not need any more division. It needs healing. It needs communication. It needs peace. It needs love.