I attended this event Thursday night.As the article states, the evening was a presentation and discussion on “Good and Evil in Human Nature.” In my mind, my favorite part of the evening was the discussion that followed the short presentations by the clergy present. In the group of which I was a part, there was a representative cross section of the various faith groups present. During the discussion, we learned of each other's understanding of the creation of man. Although they were similar, there were differences in the story. As I listened, I realized that we as humans try to understand the origins of evil and yet, are unable to come to a conclusion to which we can commit ourselves.
During our group discussion, I spoke up and suggested that for myself, I'm through with trying to make the discernment of how evil originated and how it sustains itself. I do believe that it exists. However, if my focus is entirely on evil, then I'm left on the dock watching the ship sail. The "ship" is what I suggest is the common thread shared by all of the faith groups that were present. The "ship" is the recognition that good is also present in the world. We are created with that knowledge and we are responsible for delivering good to the world. I believe by spending futile efforts trying unsuccessfully to find the root of evil and then killing it, we miss the opportunity to do what we are here to do.
During the discussion, I made a football game analogy with the point of the analogy being that even though countering evil may seem overwhelming, it is possible. The analogy was OK, but afterwards, I thought of another one that resonated with me.
I thought of my oncologist and the nurse practitioner that works with her. I know that they can see 30-40 patients in a single day. All of those patients come into the exam room carrying the evil that is cancer. The doctor and the nurse practitioner, by themselves, face that challenge, individual by individual, day by day, year by year. The evil of cancer in a portion of those patients does overwhelm and kill the patient, but in others, the "evil" is put in check and, in others, totally eliminated.
I recognize that in some instances, the origin of the cancer evil is known, but in many other instances (such as the one with which I am most familiar) the origin is not known. However, it is the task of the doctor, nurses and patient to move beyond the "how did this happen" phase and work toward the healing that is ahead.
"Because in all of the whole human race, Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men, and only two. There's the one staying out in his proper place and the one with his foot in the other one's face." *
* Lyric from "Sweeney Todd" by Stephen Sondheim