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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts on Evil

              I’m on vacation. Besides flying from Oakland, California to Portland, Maine, I haven’t done a whole lot. Brother John and I got in a round of golf the first day, but I gave my best impression of a slug the next day.  After a full night’s sleep, I napped throughout the day. When I wasn’t napping, I was reading. More golf in the days ahead, along with visits to some of our favorite haunts along the Maine coastline.

As is the case on any vacation, I have a ready supply of books I’ve been intending to read. I finished one on the plane and started another after arriving at the cabin here in Corea. This book falls into my “strictly entertainment” reading. It is a Robert Ludlum novel, entitled, The Bancroft Strategy. Some of you may know Ludlum from his Jason Bourne character, made into moves. Ludlum’s themes are always centered on secret clandestine government organizations with operatives who tend to go rogue – meaning they increasingly distrust those in authority over them, but still realize there are bad guys who need to be dealt with. Really bad guys.

In the Ludlum book, agent Jared Rinehart, who is known for his rather unorthodox style in dealing with bad guys, rescues an inexperienced agent, Todd Belknap, from the hands of Richard, a seriously bad guy. After dispatching Richard, who was about to have his two henchmen put bullets into Todd’s head, Jared asks Todd, “So what did you think of Richard after your brief encounter?” Todd responds, “Evil.”

At this point, agent Jared says, “What a concept! Unfashionable these days, but indispensible all the same. We somehow think that we’re too sophisticated to talk about evil. Everything is supposed to be analyzed as a product of social or psychological or historical forces. And once you do that, well, evil drops out of the picture, doesn’t it? We like to pretend that we don’t speak of evil because we have outgrown the concept. I wonder. I suspect the motivation is itself deeply primitive. Like some tribal fetish worshippers of ancient times, we imagine that by not speaking the name, the thing to which it refers will vanish.”

This perspective on evil and the way we deal with it in our sophisticated Western society is very compelling. We have allowed ourselves to be lulled into Political Correctness because, my heavens, we certainly would not want to offend anyone, would we!

Listen folks, there is evil in this world. There are seriously bad people who care nothing about you, me, or anyone else. They do not value life. They do not have a conscience anymore. I was sharing some of these thoughts with my sister, Joy, tonight. I asked her if she had read my recent article about the Holocaust. She said she had. In her high school class this past year, they learned about the Holocaust - that despicable evil foisted upon an entire race of people, the Jews, simply because they were Jews. I asked her if the kids questioned whether or not the Holocaust ever really took place. She then made a comment that struck me. “The kids don’t question whether the Holocaust happened – they want to know why it happened.” As I was processing this insight, she followed up with this final comment. “More importantly, the kids wanted to know if we, as Americans, knew it was going on – and if we did, why didn’t we try to stop it sooner!”

These young people are more discerning about evil than many of the adults who are supposed to guide them and teach them! Too many folks today are fooled into thinking that if they just treat evil people nicely, they’ll be nice in return. You can bury your head in the sand all day long with such nonsense. The problem is: evil will still be present.

In the book of Isaiah we read, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”

Let me ask you: What do you call evil?

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