Is the universe a friendly place?

Lisa Oz
Health Education

This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves. As we look around the world at all the seemingly needless suffering - death, disease, torture, and cruelty - it does not appear to be friendly at all. In fact, sometimes it seems downright hostile. For example, a brave and beautiful six-year-old girl was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. Last week her body rejected the bone marrow transplant that was her only hope for survival, and she passed away. This makes no sense in a friendly world. What could possibly be the purpose of such a premature loss?

We witness this sort of bereavement from a distance and try to rationalize it. We tell the anguished family we are sorry and secretly reassure ourselves that it cannot happen to us. We are saddened, but somehow our sense of the order of the cosmos remains intact. Yet, when we are faced with our own personal tragedies, the first thing we ask is, "How could God let this occur?" When it is our loss or pain rather than someone else's, then suddenly even the existence of a benign Creator comes into question. For some reason, we think that God would not let tragedy strike us. This is ridiculous. What kind of faith remains solid while millions of children starve to death, but goes out the window the day you are diagnosed with cancer?

Of course, the only possible answer to the lament of "Why me?" is "Why not me?" If the universe or God allows terror and violence anywhere, then it is possible everywhere. We are not exempt from the reality of pain. On an existential level, once it happens to anyone, it has happened to us all. I think we all know this deep down, which is why we are fundamentally afraid.

No, the universe is not friendly.

People say that Mother Teresa was not friendly either. I have heard from several sources who spent significant time with her that she was, in fact, rather curmudgeonly. Nevertheless, "friendly" is not synonymous with "good." So, while the universe definitely appears to be unfriendly, I still think it is good.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.