Monday, January 10, 2011

Surrender To Good

A few months ago, I challenged us to consider the question, "Why is there suffering in the world?" Our first answer came from Bart Ehrman's scripture analysis--humans suffer because they are being punished by God for their sin(s). Responses to this idea were strongly negative. I'm still reading Ehrman's book, but came across another idea.

In Lyn Cote's book Her Healing Ways, Lon and Mercy, the hero and heroine, are discussing why God did not intervene to stop The Civil War. Mercy, a Quaker, says,
"...God cannot make humans do something they do not want to do. The Confederacy would not surrender until it could no longer go on."
"So evil exists because people won't surrender to good?" Lon asks.
Mercy answers, "Yes...If we all put our efforts into doing the good for others that God wants for us, this world would be a better place."

Her Healing Ways, pg. 214

In this view God does not have any hand in suffering. God does not intervene. Humans bring suffering on themselves. I have also heard this concept illustrated through the American Indian story of "Feeding the White Dog". A young Indian battles good (the White Dog) and evil (the Black Dog) in his dreams until the elder explains, "Feed the White Dog".

This concept does not cover the suffering that comes from illness or natural disaster, but I believe that it covers quite a bit of the world's suffering instigated by one of the Seven Deadly Sins (greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, envy, pride, and wrath). These are all propagated by humans. It also covers the internal suffering we bring on ourselves--holding a grudge, clutching to past injuries, choosing to live in pessimism instead of optimism.

What do you think? If we all "surrender to good", would suffering be eliminated from the world?