I saw a three-year-old boy in a red shirt and blue shorts, and baby shoes on his tiny feet. He was face down in the sand on the beach with the waves the only life left near his body. And I wept because his death was man-made and with no consequences for the world that let him down.
Several of my nieces and nephews are atheists and we have had many discussions about Christianity, religion in general, faith and belief in God. So often, people will say “If there is a God, why is there so much suffering?” And my response is always the same, “The majority of suffering is man-made.”
I believe that God gave us most of the resources to prevent suffering, but we choose greed, politics, hatred, self-interest and a number of other things as a reason not to respond. There is no good excuse for anyone on the planet to go hungry. We have the resources to feed the world, and yet, there are people in the United States who are hungry, and people starving in various places of the world. We have the technology and money to provide clean water, and sanitation to the world, and yet it doesn’t get done. We have the means to vaccinate children to protect them from so many diseases that cut their lives short. And then there are the unspeakable tragedies of war – man-made killing and suffering at its most extreme, violent, and hateful.
Of course there would still be death and suffering even if we used our resources to truly help one another, but how different those deaths would be, and how different the experience of suffering would be if the person who was ill, or injured, or who had lost their home and family to an earthquake or tornado, knew that the world was a caring, gentle place, and that people would work together to ease their pain as much as possible.
Open arms. Open hearts. Open wallets. Action. Dedication. Compassion. Love.
You can tell me that “A Good God wouldn’t allow so much suffering.” And I will tell you that humanity is responsible for most of that suffering.
I saw the father of the three-year-old weeping. At first he held his three-year-old son, and then when that boy drowned, he held his five-year-old son, and when that boy drowned, he held his wife until she too died in his arms. There are only people to blame for the suffering of these lost lives and for the survivor’s grief. People created this tragedy.
God gave us the resources to ease each other’s suffering, but the resources are divided unevenly causing injustice, tragedy, and war. No matter how much you want to blame God, it would be more accurate to point at people, and in some cases, a mirror.