Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Why Bad Things Happen To Good People

The whole issue of bad and good is an illusion. When we ask this question, we are falling into victim consciousness, which is the idea that events in our lives happen to us, not for us. It is all a matter of perspective. Victim consciousness is the belief that “I didn’t deserve it” or “life isn’t fair”. The truth is life is unquestionably fair. The problem is we have limited perspective and can’t see the bigger picture. I can’t count how many times I have experienced what I thought was a disaster and later discovered it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have heard over and over from others the same discovery. The question is not “why bad things happen to good people?”, the question is why do we judge and condemn?

Major tragedies like the Holocaust and the recent shootings of innocent people occur for reasons I do not understand. That does not mean that they are meaningless. Everyone on the planet has a role to play, and sometimes the purpose of that role is hidden until we have the consciousness to understand it. Concepts like karma and fate are human constructs that we attempt to explain the unexplainable. That is why life is and always will be a mystery. I can only hope that the Holocaust happened to teach us humility and compassion, a lesson that was largely lost on the world. We are slow learners.

Until we choose to learn from tragedy and suffering, we are doomed to continue to create it. We have to start within each one of us, we have to stop hating ourselves. The violence that we see in the world is only a reflection of the violence that we hold within our own beliefs and mind. Until we change the way we interact with each other and ourselves we will continue to experience our greatest suffering. I remember a scene in the movie “Starman” starring Jeff Bridges when he forces a hunter to experience the death of a deer that a child he taught to hunt killed. The horror and guilt the man had to face changed him forever. We have to have compassion for each other and connect with the pain we inflict on others.

Many times we cause pain as a defense mechanism in reaction to stimuli. This is because we do not practice calm and balance in our lives. We react to fear because we do not breathe properly and go into fight or flight. If we could just breathe deeply and evenly in all situations we could avoid most of the defensive striking out when we feel threatened. We can’t control the actions of other people but we can control our own actions. If we respond with calm dignity to emotional attacks from others we can deflate the situation rather quickly. If we react to fear with fear, we only escalate the fear. So breathe!

There are no “good” people or “bad” people. There are only people who are the product of the environment that they grew up in and the way people treated them. People who were loved and nurtured generally don’t go into schools and start shooting people. When we stop putting labels on people the true picture begins to emerge. Our minds tend to organize things in categories; we want to put people in boxes. This is why we tend to stereotype and prejudge people. We need to stop that if we are going to begin to see the truth of who people are.

When I walk down the street in New York city, I am constantly being asked by someone to stop and talk about an issue. Whether it is Lesbian/Gay equality, Atheist equality, or the effect of Chemtrails, they do not understand that they are perpetuating the problem. They are putting labels on things that do not deserve a label. A great practice is to stop putting labels on things, to stop judging things for at least an hour. Then you may see that there are no “bad” things happening to “good” people.