When the dark side wins

My son plays competitive baseball. Our boys are earnest, hard-working and good-hearted. They admire the skill of players on opposing teams and don’t mind losing if the loss comes as a result of quality play by the other team.

But we had a tough day this week. One of the adults from another team—the team we were scheduled to play that very evening—interrupted the morning practice in a way that was perfectly within the bounds of legalities, but not within the bounds of good sportsmanship. His action distracted our coaches and kids and turned what should have been an upbeat, enthusiastic practice into one filled with irritation and bitter resentment. This man wanted to mess with our heads on game day, and it worked.

From our perspective on the receiving end of this unprovoked negative action, we felt that, if there was any justice in the world, we would win our game against them that night.

We lost. Not only that, we lost ugly, with plenty of errors.

The dark side won.

When the dark side is deep black

The next morning, while our family was still filtering through our lingering baseball resentments, some horrible news put the situation into perspective. A colleague and his wife, following a risk-free pregnancy, lost their baby at birth. Complications from the birth put the mother in intensive care. This tragic news left us speechless.

Our minds reeled with “Why? How could this happen?”

When bad things happen to good people

How do we deal with circumstances that don’t fall in line with the comforting “You reap what you sow” ideal? When people do reap what they sow, we nod our heads and say, “They had that coming.” But we experience inner tension when unspeakably tragic things happen to people who had done nothing to bring it on themselves. The incongruence makes us rail against the universe saying, “It’s not fair!”

When the matter is as simple as a baseball game, we set aside resentments easily. But when tragedy strikes deeply and brutally, it takes months or years to work through the anger. The darkness sometimes destroys people, and they never recover.

Tragedy has always been and always will be. 

The hero with a white hat does not always ride in on a steed at the opportune moment. Sometimes the miraculous cure comes too late. Often the kid at bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth strikes out.

Any perceived injustice in our physical world sets in motion a subsequent inner battle between light and dark. Our hearts become shrouded in resentment and ill will. Sometimes we contemplate delicious dark retaliation.

If we carry the resentment and ill will around, there’s no room for optimism or focused productivity. If we get stuck in the past asking “Why?” we have no room for “What now?” It’s a struggle, but we need to ask, “Am I going to be a person destroyed by tragedy, or am I going to be a person inspired by tragedy?”

Because if we don’t, the dark side wins all over again.


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on July 16, 2010, in good faith and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. By the time my husband died of cancer at age 52 our family had been through a brutal experience. We had gone through the fears of diagnosis, the ravages of illness and the trials of bedside vigilence. But we had also been through a blessed experience. We had been blessed by loving family and friends and by the dedication of professionals devoted to his care and comfort and meeting our needs. We were also blessed by the support of a loving congregation and their gift of energy/prayer. Following his death, I had to decide if I was going to be a person destroyed by tragedy or inspired by tragedy. I chose to be inspired. I chose to believe that I live in a wondrous world of God’s making, that I am surrounded by loving family and friends, that I have strength I did not appreciate before. I carry forward the blessings that came to us during that time. I have not forgotten what we went through or the injustice of my husband shortened life but chose to live with the many good, life affirming, compassionate, educating, hopeful, empowering gifts that came to us. I will not let “the dark side win all over again”.

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