Since some time in the Garden of Eden, there has been evil in the world.
Here’s a quick recap of the history. Adam and Eve, created by God, were living in the garden. God caused the plants to grow, watering them with a river, and even planted “the tree of life.” Adam and Eve could eat from that and keep on living.
There was also a tree called “the knowledge of good and evil.” Adam and Eve were not supposed to eat from that tree. They were told if they ate from it — or even touched it — they would die.
There were animals in the garden, and one of those was the serpent. He convinced both Adam and Eve that they could eat from the forbidden tree and not die. Plus they would “be like God, knowing good and evil.”
All that sounded good (though it wasn’t) to them, they ate from the tree, and their innocence was lost.
One could make the case that evil was in the garden in the form of the serpent before Adam and Eve disobeyed God. After they ate they recognized the lie of the serpent. Eve said to God, “The serpent deceived me.” Yes, he did, but Eve and Adam still made the choice.
Evil, once confined to the serpent, was now released.
And now for the news…
If you read or listen to or watch the news, you find a lot of evil being played out in the world. Because I don’t need more evil in my face, eyes, mind or heart, I rarely watch the news.
I do subscribe to a newspaper and read both articles and opinions. I also get a daily newsletter from a second newspaper that has a different point of view. So I “stay informed” to some degree, though I don’t need either paper to know there is a lot of evil in the world.
You don’t either, I’m sure, because voices are always crying, “Wrong! Wrong!” and we can’t help but hear them.
I’ve noticed many of those voices sound very much like the serpent must have sounded in the Garden of Eden.
Here is the serpent’s lie, followed by a few like it from today.
- Die? You won’t die.
- That baby growing in a womb? That isn’t really a person.
- Just because you were born male or female doesn’t mean you really are.
- If I am offended by you (even if you don’t know it), you should be punished severely.
- History is a complete fabrication created to keep the oppressed down.
Do you see how simple it is? Just redefine something slightly. Evil is clever that way.
When you come across a redefinition, be very careful before you call it truth.
Good is still a thing, and very popular!
This past April a research study was released by UCLA about “small acts of kindness.”
While the acts were small, the study was not. Led by sociologist Giovanni Rossi at UCLA, it included researchers at universities in Australia, Ecuador, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K.
They made some interesting discoveries in search of answers to their questions. One of those questions was, “Are humans generous and giving by nature?”
Spoiler alert: they are. At least when it comes to small acts of kindness.
The researchers analyzed more than 40 hours of video compiled from the countries listed above. They were looking for some signal that a person needed assistance and the response of those around them.
The signal could have been a question asked, like, “Would you pass the salt?” Or it could have been someone struggling with something, like opening a door when their hands were full.
When help was needed, the study found, “people complied with small requests seven times more often than they declined, and six times more often than they ignored them.”
In actual numbers, 10% of the time people declined to help. Even then, 74% of the time they gave an explanation about why they could not help.
11% of the time people ignored the request. Which means that 79% of the time, people helped other people when they asked for it, either directly or indirectly.
The study also found that these numbers were true across the board in all six countries. Cultural differences did not affect the percentages.
They also found that, in their extensive videos, some help was needed on average every two minutes!
What it means and what we can do (underlined)
In spite of the loud voices on the news and in social media telling us about all the bad in the world, the truth is there is a great deal of good in the world. It just rarely gets publicized.
Remember that media, whether mainstream or social, is about numbers. For reasons psychologists can explain better than I can, bad news gets more readers and listeners. Naturally, then, that is what they publish.
We do ourselves a disservice, though, when we equate the volume of a voice with its veracity. Listen to the words and evaluate them on their own merit.
Recognize the good that is being done around you, and even the good that you are doing. Keep doing it.
Last week I mentioned that I was reading, Les Misérables, and that many pages were used to describe the Bishop of Digne. A few pages later he will do an incredible good to Jean Valjean, the hero of the book, and it will change his life. But the author is still describing the Bishop when he says, “He had no systems, but many deeds.”
(Having studied systematic theology, I can say with authority that deeds are far superior to systems.)
Just a bit later this is said of the Bishop:
The universe appeared to him a vast disease: …without trying to solve the enigma, he endeavored to stanch the wound.
Let us emulate the Bishop. Let us have many deeds, and always do what we can to stanch the wound of evil.
Do good. It really is in you!