I believe that loving-kindness, caring and compassion are what make us human and separates us as higher beings. I haven’t always felt this way. Two years ago I had a tremendous motorcycle crash after being hit by a reckless driver. I almost died from a torn aorta. When others heard the details of my crash, they would exclaim that it was a miracle that I had survived, and that God certainly must have special plans for me. At first I bought into this viewpoint until I realized that if it were true, then God must not have had any special plans for those who die in similar circumstances. I could not agree with this; and the experience caused me to question my formal religious beliefs in a way I never had before.
I have struggled mightily with my beliefs. If I were to throw God out, what would be left? Just the Big Bang and an ever-expanding knowledge of quantum physics? There had to be more than this, and yet I am sure that we are not ruled over by a grand puppet-master behind a curtain who controls every atom in existence.
When I look around, I see a lot of goodness. I see people giving all that they have for others. I see people willing to give their lives for strangers. I see people teaching and caring and loving and giving joy to others. This goes far beyond the sadness and misery and hatred that we see on the 6 o’clock news. Those things are actually few in number compared to the goodness that people show to each other and good deeds done. How can I explain this goodness?
If we consider the physical world, it is subject to the laws of nature; and one immutable law of nature regards entropy. If I might take some liberties with the physics of this, the second law of thermodynamics says that everything moves from a higher state to a lower state. I know I don’t have this completely right, but I see this as saying that everything left on its own is running down, rusting out, getting smaller, wasting away, getting older, and just generally falling apart. This is as true for the earth’s orbit as it is for a glass of milk set out on the kitchen counter. But there is an exception to this wasting away, and that is mankind’s search for God and goodness. I believe that people can be better than they have any right to be. I believe that most of us struggle to achieve a higher plane of relationship with others. I believe we can contribute more than is expected, love more than is just, and give more than is taken. We are unique in this. It is what inspires us to go on in adversity. It is what makes us good.
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