If you want to be simultaneously heartbroken, gladdened, saddened, angered by the injustice in the world and have your faith in the ultimate goodness of humanity restored please go and read this post and ensuing comments by the incomparable Jenny at The Bloggess.
I think what struck me most when I was done crying my eyes out (on a train no less) was the amount of people who were struggling because of medical bills or lack of medical insurance. Living in a country with universal healthcare has made me complacent when it comes to the great gift which Clement Attlee's government gave me in 1946. Complacency is dangerous, and reading all of those stories in the comments has made me far more grateful for what I do have this Christmas season.
I thought back to what one of my Sixth Form philosophy teachers once told me. We were debating in class about the problem of evil, and one of my clearest memories is him calling me naive for believing that people were inherently good. I thought that the majority of people operated from the belief that they are doing 'good' (whatever it may be that they define as 'good'), and it is this act of striving for goodness which fuels most of what humanity does and aims for. (No matter how obscured these aims can become with other trivial matters such as materialism etc...) My teacher through this was an incredibly naive perspective and lambasted me as such.
I have thought about this difference in perspectives many times since that day. The fundamental difference that there is in thinking that we are born good and strive to fulfil this intrinsic aspect of our nature and believing that we are born with the taint of evil upon us and that we spend a lifetime struggling against this to achieve good against the odds.
Across the years I have been confronted with the unjustness and pain of the world, and the anger which comes from knowing that most of this pain is unnecessary and man made. I have oscillated between what I believed at 16 and what my teacher told me was the true nature of humanity.
But this little corner of the web has made me look at things afresh. Thank you Jenny, today I am returning to me at 16.
Love Lindy xxx