This Sunday morning is quiet and peaceful, birds chirping above the wintry landscape. As far as the eye can roam, the land is white. Single perfect snowflakes leisurely fall, in no rush for their destination.
I took to the streets, walking alongside sleeping houses, inside of which people are secure in the fact that freedom protects. Nowhere around me do we realize the illusion that is freedom, feel the urgency to act, to right a wrong, to rectify the world.
And that is what stuns me. Having spent the last several months reading a series of books about the second world war, including its military tactics and its implausible but true human rights violations, I look around me and wonder where justice lives.
Above, the clouds pulsate with energy, seemingly a facade for where God abides. But I ask myself on this frosty-fresh morning walk: Is there even a God?
In every way, there has to be, for how can a world so beautiful and complex exist by sure coincidence? And yet, in every way there cannot be, for with every luxury and ease, there is heartache and despair.
Is it that we humans are mere animals and sometimes we hold ourselves to a higher expectation, and sometimes we give in to our raw animal nature?
When I read about and reflect on the severe injustices that have been wrought upon people throughout the ages – burnings, crematoria, beatings and imprisonments – do we not see the barbarity of our brethren?
We cannot explain it away that a certain people are more animalistic than another. We sit in comfort in our American environs and believe we are above it all, but were we threatened by an oncoming onslaught, how would we react?
When I was single, I slept with a hammer under my bed, awakened many nights by sweaty dreams of banging at my door as if to take me away. With no reason, I feared that the pogroms or the dread Holocaust or some other horrible grievance against my people would come anew and that we would not be safe even here. With no reason at all.
A woman walks from her door silently to her Subaru Outback, parked in the generous driveway. A yoga bag slung over her shoulder, her perfect coils of curly hair suspended above a down winter coat. She has the luxury of a yoga class.
As I do in my morning walk. As we all do in the lives we lead here, today.
The other day, I spoke with a client about the incredible need for foster parents. We discussed it from a public relations perspective, but then we evolved into the human perspective and he asserted, “People need to do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. For no other reason – certainly not for the money (a mere $17 a day), nor for their own personal satisfaction – but because children are in need, and if we can help, we absolutely should.”
How much do we do because it’s the right thing to do? And how much do we explain away – I don’t have the time, I can’t afford it, I already am taxed with my own children – whatever the myriad reasons for the many things we never do, we focus on our own lives and our own comfort.
In our developed world, we focus on ourselves and our own futures. We save our money or we spend it, we indulge our preferences, we luxuriate. And we should.
But we shouldn’t, too. In a world where there is so much side-by-side injustice, we must speak out, act out, step up.
I ask in the title if you believe in God, and I know there are so many answers. In a way, I absolutely do, because how can I not? How can there be such a world of extremes, of beauty and squalor, of clear air and kindness and everything around me, without a great Creator presiding over all, bringing this to life?
And yet, how can there be a God, when there are people begging on frigid streets, when children are beaten by the very people who gave them life, when in some distant parts there is no food.
A year ago this week, I was in India, turning a blind eye to the poverty in the streets and the filth and garbage, focusing only on the beauty and the richness of tradition and the vibrant culture and color and life.
And then I flew home on several planes to my comfortable house and the love of my family and the lack of garbage anywhere on the landscape. I saw it with my own eyes and then I left it all behind.
We do that in small ways every day.
There must be a God and there cannot be a God and if there is a God, then is He mocking us from above, as we zig-zag our ways through the maze of life, making very unimportant things the ones we focus on and caring too much about our own good?
Erich Fromm said, “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
Let us go forth this beautiful Sunday morning with a sense of mission and vision for this life we are given, to make the world a beautiful place, to improve it as we walk on its surface, to know that, for a brief time, we were part of the solution, rather than the problem.