Good is Not Dead

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of humanity. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.” John 1:1-5

It is so incredibly tempting to see the bad in people, in life, in existence, and to throw it out. Listening to the news, reading the things that people write, and hearing the things that people say, it is so entirely easy to say that the world is a fully depraved thing without a glimmer of hope and life within it. When I was young, I was taught to see the world in this way: no good things, no good ideas, no good impulses, no good actions can come from people. However, the more I have encountered people, ideas, history, art, and even pop culture (in spite of how infuriating it can be most of the time), the more I see people screaming out for more, for better, for good. I have met genuinely wonderful people from many walks of life and many systems of belief, and though I have not met them all I expect to meet many more.

When I went to college, I learned of a concept known as the Image of God, or in technical terms, the Imago Dei. The idea was that even though the Image of God in which we were made was corrupted, it was not entirely removed from us, and that some good remains. This remaining good is sometimes referred to by Wesleyan theologians as prevenient grace, the grace that enables us to encounter God. There are a great many people, ideas, and things that are capable of being redeemed. There is light and good in the world that cannot be silenced. The impulses for good that humanity shows are all around us. For all of the stories of war and death and betrayal, we have stories of helping hands, random anonymous kindnesses, voices calling out against the darkness, and people that fight against it. I’ve always struggled with the habit of giving up hope and wanting to throw in the towel and say that it isn’t worth it. People, institutions, and the like just aren’t worth the trouble. But, in spite of the weight of human history, in spite of the bad, goodness has continued and will continue, and rather than seeing the world and the things in it as something to be thrown away, there is so much good in the world that can be used.

If I were to summarize that idea, it would be in this quote from Dr. Who, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things… The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

We live in a world worth living in and worth fighting for. So, this is me passing on the little reminder that I received today.

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