“If God is such a loving God, how can he allow war, poverty and disease?”
I hear this question a lot, and it inspired me to sit and write down my perspective, since I, too, wonder why things are the way they are, especially for me, on a personal level.
Bad things happen to all of us, personally, professionally, to our communities, countries and on a global scale. Who’s responsible for it all? Who’s to blame? Is the right response to be angry, hateful and shaming? Is the right response to get even – you know, an eye for an eye? Who do we point our finger at? Well, more often than not, we point the finger at God as the perpetrator of our challenges. He’s the one that’s responsible for the way it all is, isn’t he?
I believe many of us do use God as a scapegoat. A scapegoat is someone or something upon which we project our worst qualities. That way, we can remain in denial that they exist within us. Interestingly, we also scapegoat others with positive qualities that, again, we feel we need to deny exist with us (More about that in my next blog.). Through this amazingly sophisticated practice of denial we remain unconscious of our individual contributions to those aspects of life that only seem to be out of our control: both the aspects we desire as well as the undesirable.
When we experience a violation, where something is done to us, or is taken away from us – such as power and control, anger and rage arises. If we explore the quality of experience underlying rage and anger, we experience powerlessness and helplessness. Such an experience is solely a consequence of being human. In owning and experiencing powerlessness to the fullest, something inexplicable happens: compassion arises for us and our nemesis. (Honestly, it’s far easier to just make God the scapegoat for all our woes.) But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
If I don’t own my humanness (the experiencing powerlessness and helplessness) then I cannot empower myself to explore and discover ways in which I have perhaps contributed bad things happening. In so doing I don’t get to know myself and all the ways I’ve learned to be me. I can deny myself this process, in service to my egoic stance that I am a victim, I am powerless, and I deserve retribution. However, by doing so, I also deny myself the opportunity to witness my own process; how I’ve been perceiving the world;, how I make choices that have me personally contributing to good things happening, and to bad things happening, including war, poverty and disease, to be more specific.
Sadly, most of us are addicted to being right, so much so that we deny, or distract ourselves from the truth when we are wrong. The consequence of our righteousness is staring us in the face. The majority of our problems in the world stem from the fact that we can’t admit when we are wrong. Pointing the finger towards anyone else and blaming them for the way things are, leaves us righteous, yet at the same time, we become powerless to make a difference, for ourselves and for the world.
I believe that it isn’t God’s job to stop bad things from happening on Earth. I believe it is our job – as humans, to figure out how each of us contributes to the pain, suffering and grief that we experience, that we witness, and that we perpetuate in every arena in our lives.
We can’t insist that God be “all loving” and not also insist that we ourselves practice accountability for acts that are unloving and unkind to ourselves and others.
We can’t insist that God create peace and not also insist that we ourselves practice accountability for inflicting disharmony and pain, through our thoughts, words and actions upon ourselves and others.
We can’t insist that God provide, share and be generous and not also insist that we become present to our own withholding, and lack of generosity of spirit, again, to ourselves and others.
I have no doubt that it isn’t God who abandons or betrays us; or who brings about war, poverty and disease in the world. Yet, when I’m angry and hateful, God has often been the go-to-guy as a scapegoat. And, when I look to myself for the creation of my woes, I’m often surprised to discover aspects of myself that I didn’t know existed. Nothing bad, just ways of being that were not contributing to peace, prosperity and well-being for myself or others.
Look at it this way: As adults, we have to allow our children mistakes and suffer natural consequences, so they learn to make smart choices. If we don’t let them figure things out for themselves, and we intervene on their behalf, they will keep making bad choices and expect to get bailed out. They may act out, throw tantrums and create havoc. However, if given a safe space to work things out; slowly but surely they will come to realize a better solution to their situation. They will cultivate intelligence and accountability. They will drop their emotionalism, their pride, ignorance, and their desire to be right, in service to a more fulfilling way to be in the world. I think this is what God has in mind when he lets us be with war, disease and poverty. He’s respecting our capacity to grow ourselves up and figure it out for ourselves. I have no doubt that the human race is a lot smarter than it appears to be. We are just incredibly stubborn about not wanting to be wrong.
Many non-traditional, non-Western methods of working with violence, poverty and disease focus on personal and spiritual issues that have gone unnoticed, ignored, and denied. The journey through illness, for example, has brought many individuals to deep personal healing. They express deep gratitude for being given such an opportunity to grow and discover a greater sense of self. Many say they wouldn’t have chosen to do any self-reflective and/or self-healing work if it hadn’t been for their disease. They stopped blaming God and took responsibility for their illness and began to think, feel, and act in alignment with a higher wisdom, which inevitably brought them to personal peace. The positive consequence of this practice, for many, is that their disease is healed.
Unresolved spiritual issues of adults are carried by children of the next generation. They are carried by pets, and most likely employees, co-workers, by our communities, countries and, yes, the planet Earth. Unmanifested dis-ease becomes manifested in ways that we can’t even imagine. Too many of us want to remain ignorant of the energetic and vibrational nature of our emotional selves, but the fact of the matter is that this ignorance is killing us, our children, and our planet.
This is not a popular position. Many see this as a way to blame, shame, and guilt people for what appears to be out of their control. My intention, however, is to remove the shame, blame, and guilt from all of us and from God, so we can truly grasp the reality of a reality far beyond cause and effect, good and bad, right and wrong. By allowing us to perhaps see the ways that each person contributes to peace and war, to love and hate, and to abundance and poverty, we truly become responsible for the conditions of our personal lives and how we affect the lives of those around us.
This perspective requires us to have intelligent conversations with ourselves, asking the tough questions. For example: How do I contribute to peace in my life? How do I contribute to the peace of my children and my family? Now, don’t do anything else but be mindful throughout your day, and notice what thoughts and actions contribute to peace and which one’s don’t. Over time, you’ll come to perhaps choose to be more peace-full, or you might just continue to contribute to a non-peace-full life and reality. It’s really all up to you!
In essence, by scapegoating God for the bad things that happen, we’ll never learn to empower ourselves to greater maturity, wisdom, and intelligence. And, by scapegoating God for the good things that happen, we cannot own our capacity to create beauty, wonder and love – realizing our fullest potential to live in our essential nature. For now, trust me when I say that in truth, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting curious about who you are and what is really true for you. There’s nothing more to do.
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Who is Dr. Rosie? Dr. Rosie Kuhn is a preeminent thought leader in the field of Transformational Coaching and Leadership Development. She is available for Speaking Engagements, Coaching Sessions for Individuals, Organizations and Executives, as well as Trainings. Her books can be found at Amazon.com. And, be sure to check out many of her other blogs as www.theparadigmshifts.com.
A course in Self-Empowerment is available at http://www.dailyom.com
And, as always I’m here to empower you into your fullest expression of your essential self. A coaching session is just a phone call away. 360-376-4323.