Beyond Good and Evil

I went to the tribute service at the Quakers Hill Anglican Church last week, to pay my respects to those affected by the devastating nursing home fire. (I had been working on the crisis management for it).

It was multi-denominational, meaning there was a Catholic priest involved in the service too. We had actually pondered about what to call it when writing the notices about the service. In the end, ‘multi-faith’ would have been stretching it, because it was clearly a Christian gig.

One of the purposes of the service was to remember the people who had died or been injured in the fire, and also to pay respects to those who had helped in the rescue. The other purpose, however, was to try to make sense of the event. To ponder how and why these kinds of things happen, and come to some sense of acceptance about it.

I have to say, the Christian sermon failed to do this – for me, anyway.

The message I took away from it was that God is in charge of everything, and whatever happens is down to Him. Fires and murders included.

Sorry, that doesn’t help. Without getting into the finer points of biblical exegesis or theological debate, I just don’t understand a worldview that implies someone is out there, orchestrating the most awful events.

I think the CEO of the nursing home, who also spoke at the service, nailed it. He spoke about goodness. He spoke about home, and community and how these things all come together in an event like this.

That raises another possibility: that bad things happen to draw out the good. But that’s a pretty harsh model. What about good things just happening anyway?

I guess my view boils down to something much simpler. Stuff happens. It’s up to us, as individuals, and as a community, to make sense of it.

We all have good and evil in us – the challenge is to create an environment where the good wins out. To spend more time and effort on the good, to notice it and celebrate it. To make the most of the generosity and resilience and love that makes us human. And it doesn’t matter which God you believe in – or don’t believe in – to do that.

By Belinda Thomson 

  1. In every moment we have a choice between good and evil, at the micro level or at the life-or-death stage, or anywhere in between. Hopefully we can make the right choice in each of those moments.

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