WHY DO GOOD SUFFER?

12 Nov

Very often we see that good people suffer invariably in this world! This is not something new, and has been the case since times immemorial. This is one of the biggest ironies of life – to do good and suffer! Although one would argue vehemently that there is nothing called as good or bad, and that it is all relative, there is certainly something called as ‘universal good’ or ‘universal bad,’ which is indubitable and incontrovertible. For instance, loving all human beings as our own family members, or saving a person from death (however bad he/she may be) can certainly be considered as ‘universal good.’ Similarly embracing a dastardly act like terrorism to achieve one’s selfish ends, or killing innocent people for no fault of theirs can certainly be termed as ‘universal bad.’

Bad people always take ‘undue advantage’ of good people. They try to exploit the goodness of the good people for their own selfish ends. It was rightly said by Bertrand Russell that “it is too bad to be too good.” Good people continue to do good to others, irrespective of the consequences, since it is their nature to do so. I would like to cite an example of a monk here. Once a monk saw a scorpion struggling to come out of water. He helped the scorpion by lifting it out of water and putting it on the land. The scorpion stung him hard, and fell from his hand into the water again. The monk again lifted the scorpion and placed him on the land. The scorpion stung him yet again! This action was repeated several times. One of the disciples asked the monk why he was trying to save the scorpion even though it was stinging him several times. The monk replied, “Stinging is scorpion’s nature and saving life is human nature.” He feels that he will be able to change the nature of scorpion, one day! Similarly, the good people keep doing good even after suffering at the hands of the bad people, because doing good is the nature of the good people, while causing harm is the nature of the bad people. Good people hope to turn the nature of the bad people one day through their persistent efforts and acts of goodness and kindness.

While doing good, the good people also suffer invariably, either mentally or physically. Suffering is the price you pay for being good to others! For instance, a person who wants to fight corruption and act as a whistleblower by exposing the anti-social and illegal elements may not get support from others, as majority of the people happen to be corrupt. Even those who want corruption to be extirpated do not support the person championing the cause, as they fear that the corrupt people may harm them and their family. Thus, a person who wants to rid the society of corruption has to suffer alone (with his family) any consequences or repercussions of his acts of doing some good to the society. As long as the good people fear bad people, the bad people will continue to dominate the good. When good is superior to bad, why should good people fear bad people? Why are good people giving away their control and power to the bad people to influence them? Why are they renouncing their power to punish the bad people and sustain the good? Are they doubting their beliefs and believing their doubts? By their acts, are they supporting the good people or the bad people? All the good people should rise in revolt and defend themselves and their clan. Only then can the world become a better place to live. Otherwise, the world will only become a better place to die! We all know that we have to die one day. So, why don’t we die in Heaven rather than dying in hell? Why don’t we create that Heaven for ourselves on this earth? Of course, creating a Heaven is a Herculean task, but should that deter us from achieving our goals? Should that prevent us from trying at least? There is an adage that “not trying is a bigger defeat than trying and failing.” Do we want to embrace the bigger defeat even before we try fighting? Should something good, that takes long time and is difficult to achieve, prevent us from achieving it, and instead lead us to achieving something that is easy and bad?

Isn’t it strange that even a bad person expects something good out of life! For instance, if a person is a No. 1 criminal and rowdy-sheeter, he doesn’t expect or pray to god that all bad things should happen to him. He still expects that he should have a good, understanding, loyal, and obedient wife, helpful children, etc. He expects that others should help him in need; that his children should study well, and be happy and comfortable. Why don’t good people then think that they should allow only good things to happen to their brethren, and stop the bad people from influencing their lives in a negative way? Why do good people give bad people the charge to control their lives?

There is a maxim that “when bad things happen to good people, they become better people.” Suffering makes us stronger, wiser, and takes us to a higher level of spirituality, and closer towards god. But does that mean that good things should never happen to good people? Does that mean that if good things happen to good people, they will turn bad? When good things happen even to bad people, why can’t good things happen to good people? Are we, in some way, not responsible for depriving that goodness to people who are good, and who really deserve our pat on their backs? Why then do we take advantage of the good people and indulge in soft exploitation (i.e. exploiting their goodness), rather than appreciating their goodness?

© 2008. P. Mohan Chandran. All Rights Reserved.

09082008

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