by Kenneth Justice
~The day after Christmas I was sitting at a café early in the morning when one of my really close coffee friend’s came in…”What are you doing here? I thought you were going out of town for Christmas?” I asked
My friend had a frown on his face, “Kenneth, ya know how I told you I bought the airline tickets to New York a month ago to spend Christmas with my sister and her husband…..she died 10 days ago” he said
It turns out his 65 year old sister had a heart attack two weeks ago and died upon making it to the hospital. And so my friend and his family spent the week leading up to Christmas at the funeral home mourning her death. Both of my friend’s parents are dead, and now with the loss of his sister….the only close family he has left are his older sister and brother.
Life is so very strange……because as I was spending Christmas Eve enjoying the beauty and wonder of the holiday at Christmas Eve Mass, my very good coffee friend was spending it mourning the death of his sister. As children all across the Western World were waking up in delight as they opened presents on Christmas morning…..my friend was waking up with the hollow feeling that the death of a loved one leaves in your heart. My father died in 2008 and rarely a day goes by that I don’t in some way remember him……in fact, I think of him more now that he died than I probably did when he was alive.
Each morning when I write my article I’m torn between the subjects I can choose to write about…..in any particular week I meet people at coffee who share with me the joys of new found love or the happiness of a new job they got…..but I also talk with people who are suffering heartache connected to past abuse they have suffered, the loss of loved ones, or those who are struggling financially. The world around us is filled with thousands of stories overflowing with joy and happiness, yet there are just as many stories filled with sorrow.
One of my favorite novels is The Count of Monte Cristo. Between the ages of 13 and 15 I must have read it at least six times. The story starts out chronicling the passionate and exuberant love that the hero Dante’s is experiencing with the beautiful Mercedes….yet in the flash of a moment Dante’s life comes crashing down as he is tossed into the pit of hell, sentenced to an eternity in a dungeon prison for a crime he never committed…..Dante was on the top of the world riding high on the waves of love, yet in a moment everything he held dear in life came crashing down.
So much of our own lives parallel the joy and agony which Dante experienced. While sometimes we bring tragedy upon ourselves when we make poor decisions…. more often than not we have no control over the bad things that come at us in life; sexual abuse, gossip, death, economic struggles, emotional abuse, the list is endless. Every day we are surrounded by people who are experiencing tremendous amounts of joy, yet also sitting next to us are people who are going through trials and tribulations that run the gamut of emotions.
For those of us who don’t want to live in the dark, for those of us who want to talk about the things that matter most; we have to find that balance between being fully aware of the bad things that exist in this world, while at the same time retaining a level of joy in order that all of the evil doesn’t overwhelm us. So much of this world doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes bad things happen to good people; “The rains falls on the just and the unjust alike“. Sometimes there is no explanation and no logical reason why some of us are spared from suffering….and yet others seem to spend their entire lifetime dealing with one tragedy after another.
I was born into one of the most affluent cultures in the world. Yet on the other side of the world are children living in abject poverty that seems almost unthinkable. The AIDS epidemic has ravaged so much of the African continent and coupled with the wars, racism, and poverty all across Africa I often feel ashamed that I haven’t done more with my life to reach out to my fellow humans on the other side of the globe.
I’ve often thought that worst thing we can do in life is to live in a bubble; to close ourselves off from the true reality of life around us. It’s far too easy to say that we ‘have no control over things’ and to shrug them off as someone else’s problems. Because the simple fact of the matter is that some of us can do more. For those who of us who have been blessed with opportunity; it is our responsibility to give to others, “To him who has been given much, much is required“.
—-) There are so many single mothers out there who are struggling to keep their head above water
—-) There are so many people suffering heartache who need a shoulder to cry on
—-) There are so many people out there who have lost their job
With the New Year approaching and many of us enjoying the happiness of parties and revelry; there’s nothing wrong with being joyful. But we must always stay grounded and aware of the realities of life which often involve sorrow and heartache…for if we do not, than what kind of person do we really amount to?
For now its time for my morning coffee,
(btw, if you’re bored and looking for something to do on New Years Day…check back on my blog for my New Year’s announcement)
Categories: Culture & Society