The illusion of control

Disaster always arrives unannounced. Whether it’s a major catastrophe, such as the recent Kaikoura earthquake, or a small dose of misfortune like a bout of food poisoning, it never knocks before it enters. This dilemma is worse today because we live under an illusion of control. Our cities – busy with European cars, swanky boutiques and lush cafes – appear to be orderly and sophisticated, to function so smoothly. But they depend on the coordination of myriad systems and multiple social conventions, all of which are immensely fragile. As we witnessed in Kaikoura, and on a much larger scale, in the earthquake that devastated Hawke’s Bay more than 80 years earlier, everything can change in a heartbeat.

So, given our lack of certainty and control over our lives, how can we ever hope to enjoy lasting happiness?

The persistence of happiness

The philosopher Camus wondered why so few humans commit suicide, considering how fragile and defenceless we are. Viktor Frankl pondered the same thing while enduring years in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Frankl concluded that those who survived clung to some meaning and purpose to life. This is one of the gifts of Christian faith.

Christian faith looks death and suffering squarely in the eyes. But it also believes that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, took his place in our human journey. Because Jesus knew that God treasured every person, he lived with a realism and a compassion that shone no matter how dark the gloom.

To be able to hold on to the conviction that whatever happens, love will always win out, even beyond death, is to live with happiness.

Father Neil Vaney
info@catholicenquiry.nz

Next Steps

This writing is based on the content of ‘What Catholics Believe’, Booklet 2, ‘God Speaks To Us’ referencing pages 3 – 4. Should you like to read more just click either of the links below to download ‘Booklet 2’ or the complete set of ‘What Catholics Believe’.