Evil Ain't Nothin'

Have I any right to feel good in the face of natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Peru, that cause hundreds of people to suffer or in the face of the cruelty human beings inflict on each other? So long as there is unrest and unhappiness, can we claim any peace for ourselves?

I've come to believe the only way to alleviate the suffering in this world is to feel good.

To borrow the words of a friend who is a Buddhist priest, "All we can do is love God and do as we please." Being Irish, he has both anarchist tendencies and good sense. It's a brilliant answer. Once you love God, doing as you please means doing some kind of kindness--it is to be enlightened, which is to seek to alleviate the suffering of others.

The Celtic monks who illuminated the Gospel of St. Luke, 4:6, in the Book of Kells lived in the same spirit as my friend. In this image, there is a majestic Jesus presiding over the Kingdom of God and a puny, insect-like little devil to the left of him--little more than a negligible smudge on this splendid page.

At this point in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has been baptized by John and is in the desert. John has been calling on folks to stop waiting around for someone else to do the hard work of changing the world and start being the change. Repentance isn't about beating yourself up over mistakes but in making radical changes. John's own examples of radical change include being nice to your neighbor and sharing what you have. It's doable.

How radical would it be to look inside yourself and find God there? How radical, how exciting, to think you might be beautiful? John identifies Jesus as the premier example of the gracious life.

Luke's Gospel does not depict Jesus as a nervous young man flipping to the back of the text for the right answer whenever he's challenged by Satan or some other authority. Rather, he is a confident and calm, kind person rejecting offers of opportunities for self-aggrandizement. The answer's just plain no. He's doing as he pleases.

Choose to do good and live well, and you find that evil ain't nothin'. Evil vanishes as you breathe in complete awareness that the light of the world is within you. You are holy, and the goodness you bring is a reflection of the light within. I think the first step to changing the world is to feel good about your own life.

Mother Teresa addressed the same idea from this angle: "We cannot do great things," she said, adding, "we can only do small things with great love."

Love God and do as you please. Please.

Comments

  1. Anonymous10:38 PM

    You know, imagine what our lives would be like if we were made to suffer because of all the suffering and disasters around us. We'd all be basket cases.

    The fact of the matter is that bad things happen to all people, diasters of some sort occur in everyone's life. Yes some are worse that others.

    But dealing with our own lives and the lives of those we love and care about present us with big enough challenges.

    No one's shoulders are broad enough to carry the weight of the world.

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  2. doing as one pleases with love. i think that's the best advice for the week! totally rad!

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  3. It's totally weird. Did you read what i wrote?!!

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  4. Bungi, I hadn't read your post. I had read something on another blog last week. That's ironic. And cool.

    Stev, it's advice I can handle.

    Jumpback, I guess if we carry our own weight and a little more, we're making a difference.

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