meandering thoughts: in search of justice, love and mercy
Whilst continuing research on a historical mystery for an upcoming essay, let us not so briefly consider these thoughts. Our world is suffering critical shortages of justice, love and mercy. Of course, that is nothing new. We have several thousand years of recorded history that inform us that mankind has always been collectively deficient in these areas.
Nearly every day, on the national radio newscasts (do not care for TV much anymore) we hear of murders in our country (USA). Not intending to depress you, dear readers, but it can be depressing when one hears of small children and/or their adult family members, someone’s co-workers, neighbors, or even gang members being killed. Violent assaults, including those that require hospitalization of the victims, and rapes do not even make the news. These crimes are both too commonplace and not considered serious enough to stand out and be selected for the newscasts. A sad commentary on our society to be sure. (These “statistics” represent real people who have been victimized.)
When hearing these stories of senseless (really needless) violence, I at once feel both angry (at the perpetrators) and sad (for the victims and their families). One would like to be able to do something to reduce the violence and the tragedy, but one cannot change the world notwithstanding the best of heartfelt intentions. Some might resign themselves to this situation, and remind me that we are currently living through the Kali-Yuga, or the Age of Discord and Spiritual Ignorance. (There is already so much suffering in the human condition – why do we add to the suffering?)
As well, there is another form of violence that is inflicted on others. This passive form of violence is terrible and crushing in its effects. It is failing to love other human beings. We are thinking here of the neglected and forgotten and/or troubled children that are currently waiting to be placed with loving foster families, and for the children that are abused or neglected within their own families. (No child should be unloved and suffer rejection. Children suffer more acutely from being unloved than adults do.) As well, the old and the sick that fill our hospitals, hospices and convalescent facilities are often forgotten and lonely as many have no close relatives nearby to visit them.
Moon is courtesy of thesilverpen.com
Take the following suggestions with a large pinch of salt. I do not claim to have the answers here. Let’s put a little effort into changing ourselves for the better and may be this can over time have a ripple effect. If enough individuals become more loving human beings, we can effect positive, constructive change in this very fallen, flawed world.
As for justice, consider the other side of the coin – recompense and comfort for the wronged and injured. We all have time and talents, if not so much in the way of financial resources these days. Take the time to talk with someone who has been hurt. (This does not necessarily have to be a victim of violent crime. It can be someone impacted by natural disasters or automobile accidents or birth defects, etc. You get the idea.) Show an interest in how they are doing. Offer a kind word of encouragement to them. Sometimes, just these simple actions can make a big difference in someone’s life, and help that person to not feel so alone in their challenges and difficulties.
For those who want to (and can) do more, volunteer to drive someone you know to the doctor, if they are unable to do so. Or offer to watch their children when they need to be away. Help a person with mobility and health problems with doing the grocery shopping. Check in with them now and then by phone or in person to give them some human company if they are short of loved ones during their difficult time. Volunteer your time at a shelter for battered mothers and children. If you can, look into the many charities that help the forgotten and the rejected and write them an occassional check (financial donation). (Personally, you can make a big difference in directing some contributions to the small charities that directly help individuals in need. Enormous sums have been expended for medical research (American Cancer Society, etc.) with puny results.)
As well, if you notice an individual (family member, neighbor, friend, co-worker, etc.) who is suffering from emotional stress and is having problems with anger management, get involved in a constructive and non-threatening way. There are constructive approaches and resources that can help people who are in need of help and support in coping with their problems. Ignoring a potentially volatile situation does not make that situation simply go away.
Amidst the frustrations in the daily grind to survive, it is easy in our competitive society to forget that the others around us are human beings, and as such suffer from many imperfections. Perhaps we can be more patient when they are slow or when they make a mistake. Realizing that we are not perfect, we ought not demand perfection from those around us – either in our families. in our co-workers or in the supermarket check out line.
If we are wronged in a small way, let it go. Do not escalate from a small wrong or minor injury to a major fight with another person. This is not easy to do, but is better. If you are cutoff on the highway by a rude, inconsiderate driver, limit your response to using your car’s horn. It is not worth getting into a battle to see who can cut the other off the most times. (We are not saying let yourself be continually wronged or abused as in an abusive relationship.)
As Jesus said: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.”
It is a cruel world, but we do not have to contribute to making it more cruel.
Lastly, for those who pray, never underestimate the power of prayer. Keep those you know of who are dealing with major suffering and major problems in your prayers.
Thanks for reading. And, make no mistake, I have failed at times, too many times, in all the above categories. But, the efforts to make oneself a more loving person are themselves rewarding as I have found over the years. Best wishes to all!