Why, very often, do bad things happen to good and generous people?

In answer to Quora question: "Why, very often, do bad things happen to good and generous people?"

Thank you for the A2A. There are many pat answers to this question along the lines of "the rain falls on the good and bad alike," in other words that many life events are not causally linked to a person's character, but are simply arbitrary. I don't disagree with this statement, but I will try to dig a little deeper for you. Here are some thoughts:

1) There wouldn't be anything bad in the world if bad things didn't happen to good people. The very definition of "bad" or "evil" stems from something that is considered unjust, unfair, unjustifiable...and if unfortunate things only happened to people who were somehow deserving of them, then we probably wouldn't even have a concept of "bad" at all. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the frequency of "bad things happening to good people" would be perceived as high, because that perception allows us to define and communicate what "bad" looks like. In a way, this may be an imperative of societal fitness.

2) A lot of things that some people perceive as "bad" or "evil" in the short run actually become "good" in the long run. When we step back from immediate events, and look at a much longer chain of causality, then we can begin to realize that such shifts in perspective change the meaning or value of events. Many "good and generous" people can cite examples in their lives where something that initially seemed very bad (an accident, a loss, a betrayal, a failure, etc.) later became the source of much good their lives.

3) I personally would say that it is impossible to mature emotionally, spiritual or socially without adverse events. The oft-quoted phrase from the New Testament is "we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope..." I can't disagree with that, and would add that to become a "good and generous" person requires many struggles and trials. Is this just how we are wired to learn? Perhaps so, for without adversity we humans tend to "take things for granted" that we really shouldn't. In other words, in order for any aspect of our being to grow and become strong, we require a certain level of existential resistance.

4) This last point is a tough one to accept, but I have observed it many times. We sometimes invite calamity into our lives, and this can happen in many ways, some of which are more foreseeable than others. I may be a good and generous person towards others, but not towards myself, and so I unconsciously create situations where I fail, or suffer, or am crushed by circumstances. I may be a good and generous person who takes a little too much pride in my goodness and generosity, and, knowing this on some level, I unconsciously create adverse situations where I can learn humility. My goodness and generosity may be motivated by a desire for self-sacrifice, to the point where I drive myself to martyrdom. And so on. In such cases, being "good and generous" does not insulate me from harm, but instead may increase its likelihood.

These are just a few superficial thoughts. I would encourage you to meditate on your question, looking inward into stillness, to wait and see what percolates up from your heart regarding this question. Not only do I suspect you will find better answers there, but that you will also be more accepting of them.

My 2 cents.


Trackback specific URI for this entry

This link is not meant to be clicked. It contains the trackback URI for this entry. You can use this URI to send ping- & trackbacks from your own blog to this entry. To copy the link, right click and select "Copy Shortcut" in Internet Explorer or "Copy Link Location" in Mozilla.

No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry