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The Necessity of Tragedy

By Joel Matthews

“Why do bad things happen to good people?” A question that has been around since the first time humans were adversely affected by a natural disaster or an act of aggression by one human on another. Many philosophers would argue that luck neither rewards the ‘good’ nor punishes the ‘bad’ – because it simply doesn’t judge us. Nor does life! Even people who do indisputably ‘bad’ things don’t just stop breathing, nor do their lives stop. Such deep thinkers might even suggest that whenever we judge ourselves (or each other) as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we are all, in the eyes of the Divine, being ‘bad’ for exacting judgment on our fellow humans.

A tragedy, whether it affects thousands or only one, will evoke in many people the feeling of compassion. Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. We want to help in any way we can, even sometimes to our own detriment. Why? My personal experience is that it creates a wonderful shared feeling of universal love between the people involved. Those being helped or comforted experience gratitude, relief and sometimes wonderment of those who help them and the angels of mercy expect and receive nothing more than the energy of those feelings. Or do they get something more? My answer is “yes”.

When someone crosses my life path and I am able to fulfill in them a need or want, I get a   fulfilling feeling within myself, a complete rush of warm energy. It has been classically described as a “warm fuzzy feeling”. Warmth (heat), tingling (electricity) and fuzzy (vibrations), are all indications of energy; it is a spiritual energy coursing through your body. I define compassion as a spiritual technology. Compassion is the mechanism by which we can draw closer to the Devine. I am able to draw on that feeling at later times by just thinking about the interaction.

What if there is no face to face? What if the help is donated anonymously? Does the helper still reap an unexpected reward? My answer, again, is “yes”. You can reap the reward by simply imagining how the unknown recipient will be able to apply your help to their life. When help is given without any expectation of recompense, just the experience of giving is the true reward that draws us closer to the Divine.

What of the recipients of compassion? Are they simply there for the rest of us to sow our compassion, to make ourselves feel good? My knowledge that compassion exists comes from personal experience, in that receiving it made me want to be part of it, to give compassion in return.

Having the experience that someone would give to me, knowing that “thank you” is all they could possibly receive back from me was inspiring. As recipients, we also get that “warm fuzzy” feeling and the courage and the energy to pick up and go on in the face of hardship. We want to experience compassion from both sides.

Tragic situations are the opportunity for us to energize and evoke that spark of the Divine that is in all of us. If there were no tragedies in this world how or where would we express our compassion? How would we ignite that spark and receive this wonderful boost of loving energy from the Divine? It would simply lie dormant within us and never grow, never give us the opportunity to grow spiritually, to evolve spiritually and to achieve some minute understanding of the Divine compassion of which we are recipients by our very existence.

There will always be earthquakes, floods, tornados and hurricanes. There will continue to be people who mindlessly operate their lives selfishly ignoring the harm they bring to others. Stop asking why. When the next tragic situation occurs, follow your compassion. Feel the Divine energy and we can all grow closer to our Divine Source; and remember, when you are the one who needs help and someone offers a smile, say thank you and open your heart to the gift of energy from the Divine.


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