On the Presence of Evil in a World of Good

Narcissus knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.

When Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.

I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.

"Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”

“But…was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.

“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder. “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!”

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:

I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful."

“I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes...

My own beauty reflected.”

This reminds me of a story by Rumi. 

A fish looks up longingly at the Moon and says, 

"You are the Moon
I am but a fish. 
I cannot touch you
But your Moonlight,

The Oceans where I live"

I'd rather be the Fish, than the Moon, and have rather have longed and pined and felt and thus understood the beauty of my existence in the definition of what it couldn't be, what I can't have and what is lost. 

In C. S. Lewis' book The Problem of Pain, Lewis thinks about about the dichotomy of the existence of evil in the presence of an Omniscient and benevolent God. If we never had the darkness, we wouldn't understand the meaning of light. 

And isn't it worth the night, to have the day. Isn't longing worth love, for if we had only love we'd never know the spark of divinity that usually goes unnoticed in that immeasurably small moment of fulfillment of desire, so sweetly held back from us, as a parent holds back a child's favourite toy, and the divine spark of abosulte joy when he finally hugs his soft teddy bear. Would a first kiss mean anything without the beauty of pain and longing. And isn't it worth having something forever just out of reach, so the fullness of the experience for the longing can be quenched with the power of thought bestowed upon us. 

Dear Fish, Maybe the Moon would have been a disappointment, and your unrequited longing keeps the Moon an eternaly perfect glowing Circle, and haven't you already kissed that moon a million times in the perfect stillness on your mind. 

You never know the gift of the moment a cool, perfect, drop shaped drop of water, moistening your lips, untill you've been parched. Isn't the thirst a gift, then, and your gift equivalent to the thirst? In the 1980s Thriller Silence of the Lambs Hannible Lecter says to Clarice "Swans and Typhoid, come from the same place". Yes, they do, Hannible. 

You've never known the real feeling extatic joy, till you've had an equal amount of suffering. You never know togetherness until you've had an equal amount of loniness. 

When we are together, we talk all night
And when apart, I cannot sleep. 
Thank God for the two insomnia's
and the different between them. 

And now I see with eye serene 
The very pulse of the machine; A Being breathing thoughtful breath, A Traveller between life and death

+ I. C. Ebrahim


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