the problem of evil: “how we justify the existence of suffering with belief in a God who created us, who loves us, and who providentially manages the world.” I've noticed that people (here in the comments and in my real life) seem to want to give meaning to bad things, typically in one of a few ways: (1) that God is testing them (and so presumably as long as they hang in there, the bad thing gave them a chance to prove themselves and is at worst neutral), (2) that they suffer to make them stronger (so the bad thing is really a blessing in disguise), or (3) they suffer as a testament to the evil of other men (and those men are going to be condemned or punished, so a net negative). This last reason is the most troubling to me. A lot of people come to the comment section with judgment on their tongue and calls for blood for the sociopaths that have wrecked their lives and so deserve untold horrors.. For some of these people, this one experience has come to define their existence.
When religious people think of someone who really had it rough, they frequently will think of Job. Job not only lost everything, all of his wealth, family, friends, he suffered immense physical pain. Job basically had it about as bad as you can get it. But there was no one for Job to hate except God, which he declined to do. As his reward, God gives him double what he had before. Dostoevsky writes in the Brothers Karamazov:
God raises Job again, gives him wealth again. Many years pass by, and he has other children and loves them. But how could he love those new ones when those first children are no more, when he has lost them? Remembering them, how could he be fully happy with those new ones, however dear the new ones might be? But he could, he could. It's the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet, tender joy.
But I have a feeling that for a lot of the victims that come here, having their lives restored wouldn't be nearly enough for them to relinquish their claims to victimhood. In their mind, giving up their hurt would also mean giving up the meaning and sense of purpose they've assigned to that hurt. Giving up their pain would mean giving up their hopes for justice -- that the wrongdoers will eventually suffer commensurate to their misdeeds. These people would rather live a life of eternal victimhood than they would a world in which things eventually get better.
The Brothers Karamazov is one of my favorite books. One of the characters Ivan struggles with this desire for justice:
must have justice, or I will destroy myself. And not justice in some remote
infinite time and space, but here on earth, and that I could see myself. I have
believed in it. I want to see it, and if I am dead by then, let me rise again,
for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. I want to see with my
own eyes the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and embrace his
murderer. I want to be there when everyone suddenly understands what it has all
been for. All the religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a
Apart from the established health benefits of forgiving and letting go of past hurts, Ivan's position is simply inconsistent with reality. There is no perfect justice. To keep clamoring for it suggests a significant break with reality. This is particularly true of justice against people like me, who don't really believe in “right.” Everything just is. If bad things happen to me, I wouldn't recognize them as any sort of retribution for past wrongs. I do not believe life is "fair" that way. I wouldn't actually feel like I was being punished, so what's the point?