There is a part of the human character that simply does not want to see evil.
I was in conversation with a woman at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC during my trip back east recently where I was to attend a military workshop. I was dressed in casual civilian attire – nothing to tip off to the lady that I had anything to do with the military (Okay, my hair is really short on the sides, and I’m told I walk like a Marine – whatever that looks like). But seriously, she made mention of how disheartened she was by the war on terrorism, bemoaning the fact that we are there; meaning there in Iraq. I braced myself for the Rodney King line – “Can’t we all just get along?” I said, “Could it be that there are people in this world who truly want you dead, and that there is no reasoning with them?” She looked at me as though I had three heads. Then she looked down at the back of her hand as though fascinated by the freckles she found. I got the hint. She was no longer interested in discussing the war.
It is the fool who will not acknowledge that evil exists in the world, and that people do evil things. If ever this was apparent, it was when Adolf Hitler rose to prominence in Germany in 1932. He worked diligently to rebuild a defeated and decimated Germany, still struggling after the thrashing she took at the hands of the Americans and her allies in WWI. Hitler focused on rebuilding a strong military. He then moved into various parts of Eastern Europe, reclaiming supposed lost portions of Germany by force. European leaders were understandably alarmed. So they sent delegations to meet with “Der Fuehrer” in hopes of receiving assurances from him that he would cease his conquests. After a face-to-face meeting with Hitler, Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, was so convinced that Hitler would not continue his attacks on his neighbors that he returned to England declaring, “We have peace for our time!”
As we soon learned, however, Hitler had no intention of ceasing his aggressiveness towards his European neighbors. Instead, he moved ahead with his plans of world dominance and the establishment of the superiority of the Aryan Race. This so-called “Master Race” identified Northern Europeans as the purist race of man, devolving from ancient Atlantis which tradition says was destroyed between 8,000 and 10,000 years BCE (Before the Common Era: today’s politically correct term for BC). As Europeans populated their continent, others who were not Aryan, began to move into these areas. One such group, the Jews, are of the Semitic Race. They became the identifiable enemy Hitler and his goons needed to use as a straw man. They became the “fall guy” for all the ills of the German nation.
Tragically for Prime Minister Chamberlain, and the world, European nations, who collectively were militarily far more powerful than Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s, sought to appease Hitler. Instead, the name Neville Chamberlain has become synonymous with appeasement and cowardice.
One observer of the rise of Hitler’s Germany was Jewish scholar, satirist and essayist, Kurt Tucholsky. He was born in Germany in 1890. He moved to Paris in 1924, and finally to Sweden in 1930. He was keenly aware of what was happening in his homeland. He had many friends who were persecuted under this new Nazi regime. In a letter to a friend, Tucholsky described himself as an ex-German and an ex-poet. On April 11 1933 he wrote, “I suppose I need not tell you that our world in Germany has ceased to exist.”
Tucholsky greatly feared National Socialism, so much so, that when the Nazis came to power in 1933, his books were burned and he lost his citizenship.
At the end of my visit to the Holy Land this past March, I visited the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Words do not adequately describe this powerfully somber reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. One inscription on a wall caught my eye. It was written by Kurt Tucholsky. He lamented, “A country is not just what it does – it is also what it tolerates.” That got my attention!
Let me ask you then: As you look across the philosophical, political and theological landscape of America today, what do you see? Ask yourself these questions: What are we, the American people, tolerating? Have we abandoned the moral high ground? In the midst of our diversity, do we no longer speak with one voice? Is the rest of the world even taking us seriously anymore? Should they? Why?
To list the evils we tolerate today as a nation are, at the very least, an embarrassment to us as a people. At worst, it is deserving of God’s judgment. I pray we awaken from our slumber before it is too late.
Evil must be conquered – never appeased!