Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent for Christianity in general, and Catholics in particular. It is a time of penance, something we all need. We all need to atone for our failures, for our sins.
Humanity is fallen; the world around us is fallen. That's why people do wrong, and genes mutate into cancers and such. Nothing in our universe is perfect, but there is a difference between we humans and dumb animals and the inanimate things nearby. We can choose. We can decide whether to do well or ill. It is what makes us special, and separates us from all else.
But surely these next few weeks aren't for Christians alone? It would seem that no matter what you believe, or whether you believe anything at all, you would still think it a good idea to improve yourself, or to do good things for those in need around you? Even if you cannot bring yourself to believe in something beyond humanity or beyond the universe itself, you can still make the effort to make yourself a better person and enrich the lives of those whom you come in contact with day in and day out. It's the one idea that the seriously religious and the secular humanists can surely agree with each other, don't you think?
So try to become a better person this Lenten season. Smile, help people, discipline yourself in habits of mind and body. You might be pleasantly surprised as the good habits formed become a part of you. The folks around you may be downright shocked. And we'll all be the better for it.