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Where the Evil Things Are

Where the Evil Things Are

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If 20th century moms have taught us anything about life, it's that "nothing in life is fair." We're taught from a young age not to ask "why," and that "why" isn't even a word, but the 25th letter of the alphabet. And it's crooked.

But as you grow, the question only grows stronger. In a world crawling with evil, terrorism, murder and illness, it's nearly impossible not to wonder why G‑d lets evil things happen to good people.

Why, indeed?

G‑d, it appears, has no intention of letting us in on His little secretIf you have ever wondered "why," you are indubitably not the first, and certainly not the last. This question has tortured man since the beginning of time. But just like your mother shushed you when you were a child, G‑d is hushing you now.

Moses was the first to ask G‑d this question and He, too, was met with deafening silence. Many have tried to provide answers since, none satisfying. None sound like the answer. G‑d, it appears, has no intention of letting us in on His little secret.

Do you ever dare wonder why? Why is G‑d so insistent on keeping it on the down-low? What does He have to hide?

As I typed the above, my head began to swarm. My thoughts were seizing like an abnormal cycle of a washing machine. Everything was moving, spinning in a dizzy circle. Then it quickly spiraled away and all I saw was black.

I hadn't sipped magic from a frosted glass nor consumed a mushroom of any sort, so I could only assume that what occurred next were the effects of a bona fide epiphany.

When I opened my eyes I wasn't on my bed anymore. Dazed, I looked around. There were nurses in scrubs, scurrying purposefully with clipboards in their hands, doctors in long white coats. Hair-raising silence filled the halls, with the exception of some faint mechanical murmurs. And the smell. There was an unmistakable odor. I could place it anywhere; it was the smell of the Intensive Care Unit.

I was trapped in a hospital.

Slowly, I got up, coaxing one foot in front of the other. An ethereal feeling washing over me as I walked down the eerie corridor, passing rows of numbered doors. Room 195. Room 197. 199. I was nearing Room 201 when I heard it. The sound of that moment altered my life – at least my perspective on life – indelibly.

His pain was so real, so sharp and imminentIt was the cry of a man. Shrill, piercing, poignant. I could feel goose bumps spread over my body at the sound of a grown man sobbing like a child. His pain was so real, so sharp and imminent; it threatened to spill over into the salt water building in my tear ducts. I tried to run, but the feeling chased me. I grew hot and cold and began to tremble. My knees gave from beneath me as I sunk to the floor, clutching my chest. My heart raced like a clock in fast-forward.

The next thing I remember was a nurse peeling me off the floor. She had creepy little clown heads all over her scrubs, which struck me as strange, since I was roughly certain that most of the patients on this floor couldn't appreciate the sight of clowns.

Nonetheless, I murmured a polite "thank you" and asked her to direct me to an elevator. Slowly, I made my way to the lit exit sign. I passed Room 304. 306. 308. Room 310 was coming into view when I heard it again! The very same bloodcurdling cry I had heard just moments before. It was the same incredible agony, waiting just beyond the curtain. But this time it was a woman. And this time something truly curious happened.

I didn't feel bad for her. No aches or throbs inside. Not a goose bump to spare. I felt nothing even akin to empathy.

My behavior may appear peculiar, temperamental or even cruel. But it was none of those things. In fact, had you been in my place you probably would have felt the same.

Allow me to explain.

The first cry I heard was from a 39-year-old, terminally ill man. He had a wife and four children at home. He had a successful career; he had passions, aspirations and dreams. He had his entire life ahead of him, but, instead of living it, he was lying motionless in a hospital bed, in pain. Real, gut-wrenching pain.

But when I landed the second time, I was visiting the maternity ward. The screams came from a woman giving birth to her first child. She was suffering, yes. Perhaps in pain as acute as the cancer patient in 201. But this time there was a reason. A good reason! A healthy, six pound baby boy!

If we saw the goodness in war, sickness, poverty, and hunger, we would disregard themConsider what would happen if we knew the reason for pain. If we understood why terrorists walk into restaurants and blow themselves up. Why earthquakes destroy entire countries, why good people die young, or why children are diagnosed with terminal diseases.

Essentially, we would lose our ability to commiserate with the victims. If we saw the goodness in war, sickness, poverty, and hunger, if we knew their purpose, we would disregard them, because we would know they were good. We would walk by horrors, like I walked by Room 310, unmoved, insensitive to the blood and tears. We would smile in the face of death. Laugh at funerals. Dance through tragedy. Ultimately, we would lose touch with what makes us human.

The ability to feel for another. The capacity to share pain.

Mushka is a writer from Buffalo, New York.
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Anonymous brooklyn February 23, 2011

WOW I love your articles.. your really awesome.. didnt have time to comment on all of them but in reference to your previous article about fashion.. I absolutely loved it and ignore the haters and keep doing what your doing girl! Reply

Lori Papermaster Jerusalem, Israel July 14, 2010

The capacity to share pain....... I'm more than impressed with your essay. You've captured the crux of what's necessary for the human race to survive as a compassionate creation and this is truly what G-d wants from us. Not always does a writer move me, yet you have and have struck a deep place inside of me. Continue writing for us. Reply

Dr,. Harry Hamburger Miami, Fl July 14, 2010

The source of evil G-d is neither good nor bad, but simply is, and the energy that he sends into the world to allow it to exist simply is also. We can choose to use this energy in a good way, or in a bad way. So, where does evil come from? It comes from us by our choosing death rather than life. G-d's speech creates, and because His essence was blown into us, our speech creates also. It creates "speech angels" that can affect those around us and world in good or bad ways. So in conclusion evil arises in our mind, spreads through our speech, and is actualized in our deeds. So who gave the young guy in the hospital cancer? Perhaps it was someone near by thinking and speaking bad thoughts that attached themselves to him. Sounds crazy, think about my words for they have a firm basis in Torah. An watch your words also, for they have great power to create good or bad things. Reply

Anonymous calgary, ab July 13, 2010

Still.....I am mute with sorrow when I look around the world.
Because the L-rd does not deserve the evil that is done on the earth. This grieves me.
It is against Him, very much against Him; this evil that is done.
And my poor broom hardly seems adequate. Reply

Anonymous deal, nj July 13, 2010

Written Beautifully Very imressed took a very hard question to explain and brought it out so nicely. Reply

Anonymous ny, ny July 12, 2010

wow! Reply

Anonymous brooklyn July 11, 2010

deep a really impressive article! Reply