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Chapter Six
Why do Terrible Things Happen?

Nothing ends in vain.

Wars are less frequent. Violence is trending downward. People everywhere are more educated. Diseases are being cured. Small pox has been eradicated from the face of the earth; Polio and other diseases are on the verge of being wiped out. Every day we are getting closer to curing cancer. Children are dying less and people are living longer.

Why? Because everybody is a martyr. Our pursuit of perfecting ourselves uses the sorrow of the past as a catalyst to develop a more perfect future.

To answer: When something negative occurs we find ways to avoid it - from catching a cold to a much more enormous evil like nuclear war - we learn from our mistakes. We see death as a problem and work on ways to avoid it.

We are not far off from curing cancer, prolonging lifespans and finding ways to live healthier lives. And we didn't get here without terrible things happening-we need devastation to improve.

"But death certainly, and life, honor and dishonor, pain and pleasure, all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither good nor evil."

- Marcus Aurelius

Things, beyond our control, happen each day - things of which are neither good nor evil - things that we give meaning to, if they derail our plans, make us hurt, or kill our loved ones we are tempted to deem those things "terrible" or "evil". But nothing is as much evil as we make it. We are participators in a nature beyond our control, in the random occurrences that collide each day as life goes on through different lifeforms such as bacteria, virus, disease.

Our awareness allows us to set definitions for what we might deem good or evil. Most living things don't know whether something killing them is good or evil, they just know they want to exist. Our solution to care as much to define something as evil is a survival mechanism, because it is typically evil things that draw us away from feeling alive, we are closer to death or closer to not identifying ourselves when something terrible happens to us or the ones we love.

We can make of the terrible things, two things: we either learn to avoid or overcome the terrible thing in the future and it becomes good, or we allow the tragedy to devastate us repeatedly, harboring an evil within our soul that leads to greater evils.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."

- Friedrich Nietzsche

As individuals we must take a look at our personal tragedies, considerably significant occurrences that negatively affect us, we must be aware that they did not happen in vain, there is something to be learned on a small scale from your behavior or reaction to a situation that left you broken or incomplete. The defining factor is to see this not as a failure or tragedy, but to figure out what you can be doing in the future to fix your attitude or approach, to be asking yourself: what can be learned from a negative experience?

Even yet, we are hard to learning, and we must experience different extremes to understand the best route to move forward as individuals and as a society.

Terrible things happen in both terms as ideological forms but also as destructive forces of nature. If humankind is nature, then we must reason that everything, even ideology is a force of nature.

Terrible things occurring are tough lessons being learned, sharpening our experiences to draw toward a more fruitful future. We establish ourselves in real terms when we are hardened by reality. And the reality is that life is a history of suffering, and all that surrounds us each day can lead to severely terrible things.

"There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy…So long as we persist in this inborn error…the world seems to us full of contradictions. For at every step, in great things and small, we are bound to experience that the world and life are certainly not arranged for the purpose of being content. That's why the faces of almost all elderly people are etched with such disappointment."

- Arthur Schopenhauer

Very little is needed to maintain a happy life.

Tragedy and suffering are natural parts of us, and we can exercise them to our benefit. Acceptance that terrible, unexpected things will occur is the beginning of peace. To deny that anything harmful will happen is to live in a reality that is dangerously a lie. And lying to oneself is a greater tragedy in most instances.

Giving a reason to why terrible things occur allows us to define a purpose for tragedy. In those moments of utter turbulence, we can take advantage of the pain and reflect upon what growth can be made, what strength was gained, and what we desire to do in the future to fix what has been broken. Tragedy comes at us in different forms, and finding ways to overcome pain is something that is crucial to our mental well-being and identity - if you cannot find ways to overcome it alone, find those willing to help you out of a rut. Remember that nothing is final, nothing is totally broken, and there is help everywhere.

All of us have encountered hardship, and all of us - together - are working toward a future where terrible things can be avoided. This is not a call to remain optimistic, be optimistic yes, but also figure for solutions to avoid the terrible evils we are likely to encounter.

All death, tragedy and illness can be eradicated, but it will not happen without tragic loss and sacrifice.