In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders answer readers' questions.
Help can turn bad situation into good
Pastor Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: It's unfortunate that some people create for themselves bad situations by making bad choices and demonstrate irresponsibility in matters that call for being responsible and accountable. And there are those who ask for help who find themselves in bad situations not of their making.
But help is such a critically relevant earthly word that finds meaning in everyday human relationships — good and bad. Help is like a stimulus word that transforms a bad situation into a beneficial one. Help is a love response that Jesus makes when he says, "love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). This is followed up with the strong exhortation of Romans 13:8, "owe no man anything but to love one another."
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God has made the word "help" a moral expedient in the context of human relationships. In the book of beginnings, the word was evoked into the mainstream of the family circumstance when God said on behalf of man the making of woman would be a help meet/mate or helper (Genesis 2:18).
Some people ask for help in extreme cases of human foolishness resulting in troublesome situations, like in bad monetary cases. But to help, first determine your own circumstance, then respond as you see fit, not second guessing yourself if your response is no.
Seek help and sow new seeds of karma
Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: Buddhism is a unique religion that is non-theistic; therefore, there is no supreme being to ask help from. So, where do Buddhists turn for help?
On a fundamental level, we believe that we have created all of the situations in our life as a result of our past karma. Karma is often misunderstood as some kind of pre-destiny, but in its most simple form, it is simply cause and effect — every action produces seeds of karma that will ripen in this or future lifetimes. Therefore, everything that happens to us in this lifetime is a result of past karma, and everything that we do in this lifetime produces new seeds of karma. So karma is constantly at play.
When going through a difficult experience, there is nothing wrong with asking for help from our friends or family. Buddhism places great emphasis on the spiritual community that is referred to as "sangha."
We are all going to have to deal with difficult or painful situations in our lives, and from time to time all of us need help and emotional support. If we respond negatively we are only going to make the situation worse and sow negative seeds of karma for the future.
Through the practice of meditation, Buddhism's main practice, we can develop awareness and insight to respond to every situation with compassion and wisdom.