Saturday, February 1, 2014

With Both Eyes Open

            If you were asked to list ten things that are wrong with the world, you’d most likely be able to list one hundred. Alternatively, if you were asked to list ten things that are right with the world, could you come up with ten? I’ve spent my life listening to people complain about all the bad things of the world (I’m also one of these complainers). 

            Just to name a few of our problems: It seems that there is always at least one war happening somewhere, if not multiple. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that “nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012,” yet there is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone in it. According to FBI’s 2010 “crime clock” statistics, a murder happens every 35.6 minutes and forcible rape happens every 6.2 minutes.

            There are a lot of bad things that happen. Since these bad things are caused by people, the conclusion is that there are a lot of bad people out there. We live in fear of these people, which makes us become suspicious of everyone. So, we start seeing the bad that those around us are capable of. Do you suspect the bad in yourself and those closest to you?

            I’m not going to deny that there is a lot of bad out there. We live in an imperfect world with people striving to make it better and others who just make it worse. What we fail to realize is that these people who strive for better and worse are actually the same people. The world isn’t so black and white. People aren’t that simple. It seems easy to see a criminal and claim he is bad person, but then others will see him as the best person they know.  Labeling someone as a villain or hero dehumanizes that person a bit, because it doesn’t show the full capacity we have as human beings.

            Self-analysis: just today, what good things have you done? Did you make someone smile? Did you buy someone breakfast? Did you do something helpful? Come up with a cure for a really bad disease? And what bad have you done: caused someone to cry? Intentionally or unintentionally inflicted pain on another? Or even omit from doing anything good? I think as individuals, we understand how complex we are, but then we look outwardly and there is the tendency to see good or bad with a bigger focus on bad. It’s a tendency mostly driven by fear.

            We tend to focus on everything bad that is happening in the world, but what about the good? Why does that get ignored? Why is it so easy to overlook? Good things in the world: clubs and organizations at schools from all levels who want to help society. On the Hunger Math blog, there is a list of 13 organizations committed to ending world hunger, and I’m sure far more exist than that. Heart disease has dropped by 40% in the past 25 years. “27 states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoking bans,” which the Institute of Medicine said, “cut exposure to secondhand smoke, which, in turn, has contributed to a reduction in heart attacks and death from heart disease.” I could easily fill more than 100 items to put on the list of good things in this world, but hopefully you get the point.

            I think there is also a fear that if we focus on the good, we’ll ignore the problems of the world so they will never be fixed. Well, God gave us two eyes – one to see the bad and one to see the good. You can’t live your life with both eyes shut, and you shouldn’t live with only one eye open - seeing just the good or just the bad. Seeing only the bad leaves people jaded and hopeless. Seeing only the good is somewhat delusional and unrealistic. You have to see the world with both eyes open.


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