The World is Not Good This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 16, 2011
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Glancing at the clock, I realized the pages before me had taken over my mind. The lights were turned out in every room, my dim bedside lamp the only source of illumination in the quiet household. An intense scene had just played out before me, or so I thought, until I gently placed my book beside me and realized how tranquil my surroundings really were. Two thirty three, the clock shouted, but I was too awake to care. My body lay limp, probably already asleep, as was routine at that hour, but my mind was far from sleep. After taking a second to return to the world outside of the pages previously at hand, I reached for The Poisonwood Bible once more, ready for further adventure. But little did I know what else I was to find in what should have been just another boring, school-required reading.

Instantly, I was taken back into the world of Congo. Villages of mud surrounded by rivers, shouts from the market, and the distressed cries of a mother who just lost one of her babies flowed ceaselessly through my mind. Out in the distance, a man preaches the word of God, or more likely forces it upon the uncaring people, as word of more foreign interference reaches one family fighting for justice. Then as night slowly creeps upon the hardworking village, a native tells a story to his non-native wife. He speaks of a time when Congo was free. A man and woman walk hand in hand down a jungle path as the river’s music fills their ears. They sing songs with the rest of their village, make food with what they have, and live in peace. Problems consist merely of rivers being too large to cross, and they simply were not, the other side remaining untouched and natural. They walk past the forests of trees thousands of years old that never see an axe and house the species of animals that never come down from the stories of emerald foliage thinking nothing could go wrong. Then foreigners arrive. Primitive, they call the people, no buying, and no selling? How can they survive? So, they take over, setting up plantations and churches and taking their converts as slaves. All that was once pure becomes splattered with a red paint, never able to come clean again.

The sentences continued before me but the images imprinted on my brain stood still. How could such people change the rare purity found in the Congo? Why would they interfere? Pondering these thoughts, I was struck by a bolt of knowledge, unwanted and unfortunately, true. The world is not good. I had always known this one way or another, but only there as I watched the clock strike three did I let it sink in like the tears rolling down my face.

Each day those images of goodness and then interference peek through the shadows of my mind, reminding me in all of the unfairness, that the world is simply not good. But even as I think this over a million times, rolling the thought around, forcing myself to understand, I still find myself aching for this untouchable goodness. I’m sure we all do. Just imagine a world, no suffering, no injustice, and no war. Reach for it. It was here on Earth at least one point in time, it will come again.

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