Sometimes asking the right questions is as important as being brutally honest with the answers. They tell us that if you pray to God that you will eventually get what you pray for. Others tell us that there is some unseen flow called karma that ensures doing good will cause good to return, and that bad will lead to bad. It’s very easy to want to believe such things.
However, some have questioned how a God could allow tragic events to happen to good people. Personally, I know of enough bad things happening to good people to question this thing called karma. If the rules of the game are not fair, then why would you want to stick to the rules? I’ve been struggling with this question for years, and now I think I’ve seen enough to take on an honest attempt to answer this question.
Life’s Not Fair
At one time I was an extreme optimist, but Life has battered me down enough times to temper this optimism down a bit. I try to balance being an optimist with being a realist, but sometimes I find myself being quite pessimistic. The more that I live and see what Life can do to people and what it already has done, sometimes I question the notion of God, of karma, or simply question the goodness in people.
For example, I heard about a story of this one girl from a poor family that had an alcoholic and abusive father. The mother died when this girl was eight, and two years later the father abandoned the two children. Shortly after the two kids were sent to a foster home, her brother passed away. And on top of all that, earlier at the age of three, the girl was having vision problems which eventually became worse in spite of multiple surgeries trying to save her sight. Her vision became so bad that they had to send her to the school for the blind. What kind of God would let this happen to an innocent girl?
What about that story of the black eight year-old girl, also from a poor family, who was molested and raped by her mother’s boyfriend, which psychologically traumatized the girl and became mute? Turns out that years later when she was 17, she became a single mother and had to work as a shake dancer to make ends meet. What kind of karma could she have gotten as a little girl to deserve all this?
Consequences When Bad Things Happen
I have seen many people who were once good individuals, but the unfairness of life has jaded them and influenced them to be the kind of people that they are now. I do sincerely believe that we all have some inherent good in us, but sometimes it’s difficult to keep that good in us when bad things happen. Sometimes there are events that happen to us that we don’t deserve and can’t control, but we can control how we respond to them.
The orphan girl that was becoming blind did not lose her vision completely, and she eventually became the valedictorian of her class. Anne Sullivan became a tutor and mentor for the blind, and her life experiences helped her to connect to this one particularly difficult blind, deaf, and mute student named Helen Keller.
The mute girl that became a single mother is not a mute anymore and eventually moved on into theater, music, and poetry. Her words have been credited to heal and inspire many generations of people. She has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She has been on two presidential committees and even read one of her own poems for a presidential inauguration. Maya Angelou touched many people’s lives, including mine.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Because it helps them to see how to make this world a better place. Because that’s what separates the truly good people from those who only think they are good people. Bad things happen to good people because it is a necessary part of making a good person great.