Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

Every time I read the news, not only do I feel sad, but I also feel powerless against the evil that occurs in this world. I especially felt that way last week when reading about the shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Why do bad things happen to good people? I’ve reflected on that question a lot over the last two decades. I still don’t have an answer. However, I no longer think that is the right question. The question we ought to be asking ourselves is this: What should be our response to evil in this world?

In my opinion, the best response to evil in the world is to be a force for good. Now I think we all know what “good” is, though sometimes I hear the silly comment, “Even Hitler thought he was doing a good thing.” No, he didn’t. ISIS doesn’t believe they are saving the world either. Bad people do evil things knowingly. Then they justify their behavior with religion or ideology. Evil people aren’t stupid, they’re just evil.

Being a force for good means actively trying to create a world that isn’t just good for a small few, but that is good for everyone. It is a world in which every child is loved completely by someone. It is a world in which girls and women have the same access to education and careers as men. It is a world in which people are paid fairly for their labor. And it is a world in which everyone has adequate food, clothing and shelter.

It is a world in which no one is abused physically, sexually or emotionally. It is a world in which people can live freely without fear of violence in their home or community. It is a world in which “we use our words,” as preschool teachers like to say, instead of our hands (or fists, or guns). It is a world in which, as Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated, we are judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. It is about everyone having the three “inalienable rights” described in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – a phrase many of us memorized in grade school, but haven’t thought about since then.

Being a force for good means that we intentionally work to bring about the world I just described. Now each of us has a different ability to do this. Someone like Oprah, who has substantial wealth and influence, is able to be a force for good for millions. Then there are those of us who have a shorter reach. For instance, I try to spread a positive message through my writing. I have a friend who is a preschool director.  She works hard to make sure that every child at her school feels special and valued.  The amount of influence we have is not the point. The point is to work for good from where we are and with what we have.

Significantly, it isn’t enough to complain about what is bad. We aren’t going to change the world merely by bemoaning poverty, racism, sexism, and violence. And we aren’t going to change the world, if we consider change to be the sole responsibility of the exceedingly wealthy (Oprah, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, etc.). The world will only change when the majority of people make it a priority to do what they can to make the world a kinder, more decent place for everyone.

We are not powerless against evil. We have power when we care for our families and care for people who are complete strangers to us. We have power when we care for the earth, including its animals and plant life. Our opportunities to be a force for good are boundless. And that force will be unstoppable, if only we use it.

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