Thought of the week
Rabbi Danny Newman
So much joy, so much pain. Life is so unpredictable. I remember when I was younger that I truly believed that life ought to be “fair”. As I have grown older, I see more clearly that life is “not fair”. So many ‘good’ people suffer and so many apparently ‘bad’ people seem to be rewarded. So often, I hear from people who are suffering that: “it’s just not fair!” or “I don’t deserve this!” or, more painfully, “what have I done to deserve this?”.
And the truth is, you haven’t done anything to “deserve this” – whatever ‘this’ suffering is. Life is unpredictable in so many ways. We can’t control what will happen to us. But maybe, just maybe, we can respond skilfully to events as they unfold. We can comfort the bereaved, we can feed the hungry, we can house the homeless, we can support those who are illand we can be a source of love, compassion, kindness and wisdom to the people who populate our lives.
Over the last few days we have witnessed overwhelming sadness and suffering – a man opened fire on worshippers in 2 mosques in New Zealand killing 50 people and injuring scores of others. The victims were from many different countries, including India, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Somalia.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, responded with love and compassion. She hugged the victims in Christchurch, wearing a black headscarf as a simple show of respect and she gave people the unifying cry "They are us". She has also taken firm and decisive action with promises of concrete legislative change to clampdown on the country’s lax gun laws.
Suzanne Moore wrote in the guardian that, “ Martin Luther King said genuine leaders did not search for consensus but moulded it…Ardern has moulded a different consensus, demonstrating action, care, unity. Terrorism sees difference and wants to annihilate it. Ardern sees difference and wants to respect it, embrace it and connect with it.”
It strikes me that it might not actually be very useful to ask whether life is fair or not, or whether it ought to be. The most useful and skilful question must surely be: “…and what can I do to respond to the events unfolding in my life with love, compassion, kindness and wisdom”.