Perspective: Human suffering and tragedy

Perspective: Human suffering and tragedy

While our nation celebrates the feat of Cadel Evans after winning the Tour de France, one can't start the week without reflecting on the gross tragedy experienced by the peaceful city of Oslo, Norway, and the death of soul singer Amy Winehouse, aged 27. 

These events, in their extremities, point to the very real capacity for human life to fracture and fray, and the human mind to become fatally corrupted, to the extent that pain is inflicted on others or the self.

The latest reports suggest the twisted Anders Behring, aged 32, is responsible for the deaths of up to 96 people, many of them very young. Confronting images of Winehouse beneath a blanket on a stretcher (is that necessary?) accompany reports suggesting the singer, plagued by drug and alcohol addiction, psychiatric issues and anorexia, was found in her home, the victim of a suspected drug overdose.

How truly awful for the families of the lost ones who remain behind. I cannot imagine their grief.

Further details suggest that Behring used his Facebook page to declare his interests: a right-wing political conservative, he also called himself a member of the Knights Templar, a medieval military order founded around 1119 by a French nobleman, and under authority of the Roman Catholic Church, with the initial objective of giving Christians safe passage out of Europe during the Crusades.

Behring's murderous, calculated mission seems to be a gross misuse of misconstrued political and religious ideology in the hands of a single man, a madman, whose target was the progressive Labour Party. In his manifesto, a document titled '2083 – A European Declaration of Independence' – he described a crusade against "cultural Marxism" and the rising "Islamization" of Europe growing out of multiculturalism.

"One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests,” he said in the single Twitter posting to his account. His acts, not brave but provoked by fear, in the nation that hosts the Nobel Peace Prize, have at once sullied any reasonable efforts for peaceable public discourse around such issues.

In light of Behring's association with the Christian right, I'd say that anyone can call themselves a Christian; what makes you a true Christian is how you live your life, and that is in following the ways of Christ. And Christ preached love, not hate; peace, not hostility.

When man tries to create in himself a God, and a law unto himself, there is a penalty to pay. And we have seen this manifested in the most Godless of acts, such as Nazism; the seeds of destruction born out of single men with agendas. And all of humanity carries these great historical burdens.

On Friday, I began to address some questions of faith at One of the recurring questions for Christians is, "If there is a God, why do bad things happen?" From the Christian world view, mankind is fatally flawed owing to a choice that was made – between good and evil. Why did God give us free will to make such a choice? Because He seeks a genuine relationship with us that speaks to the very core of the longings of the human heart: for pure, truthful, loving relationship built on faith and trust.

When a human heart is broken, so is God's. Like a father whose children have gone astray, He grieves for humanity, on both a grand scale and on a more personal level.

Winehouse was a lady who had lost her way, and didn't see that there was still hope or that she was worthy of self-love and the good things in life. She was sold a lie. Her premature death from self-inflicted bodily abuse speaks of a history of great musical talents who are unable to tame their dark thoughts despite what would seem to be their great fortune. Under intense scrutiny from the world, her fragile body, mind and soul were simply no match.

Fame, as we are reminded time and time again, does not inoculate us against the world and its pains and sorrows; but nor does apathy or ignorance towards the darkness that permeates the world in all its clever guises. Love, hope and faith can prevail in the direst of circumstances – and they must! – but first we have to humbly acknowledge that we are all capable of right and wrong, and the misuse of life, and are in need of a guiding light when the darkness threatens to take over.  

Girl With a Satchel