Difficulties Bring Out the Best and the Worst

I have come to the conclusion that difficulties bring out the best and the worst in human nature. Among the best, is the inspiring commitment and compassion of doctors, nurses and hospital staff that put their lives on the line every day trying to save the lives of Covid-19 patients. That also goes for the dedication of front line responders like those who work with EMS, police and fire department servants who give so unselfishly of themselves for the sake of the community.

Examples of the worst in human nature are those who live only for themselves, who put their own personal interest and desires above their concern for the impact their careless actions have upon others. They make no personal sacrifices, have no empathy or compassion for the suffering and dying and are determined to live their lives as they so desire no matter what.

Dietrich Bonhoffer, a German pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident lived in the dark days of Hitler’s regime. From the beginning, he was involved in protests against Hitler’s attack on Jews and was part of the movement to overthrow the dictator. He, of course was arrested, put in prison and executed. But not before his powerful letters from Prison found their way into free society.

As an astute spiritual leader observing the good and bad that traumatic times bring out in human beings, Bonhoffer wrote an article on “Stupidity” that seems to fit some of what we are observing in our own traumatic day. Read and ponder his words.

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

James, the brother of our Lord wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

In His Love,


Difficulties Bring Out the Best and the Worst