The news hatched another monster story today. This time children were among the victims. This has to stop, I thought as I filed it under tragedies that are far away, but may come close all too soon. While this tragedy was unfolding, I was waging a battle of my own with evil, and it all happened during church.
Contemplating evil and trying to sort the levels of evil is not a job for the faint of heart, but it seems that if someone could just take out the maniacs who keep blowing themselves up along with whoever's close, the world would be a better place, and certainly a safer place. This form of evil is so very crystal clear. And I myself do not engage in it. Subject closed.
A small voice reminded me that to hate is to kill. The smallest act of hatred is evil that can blossom into all forms of murder. The subtle cold shoulder, the snide remark, the well-placed lift of the eyebrow, the suggestion of one's own superiority can be ever so camouflaged in a show of humility so convincing that only those who know you well can detect it. You can, of course, even fool yourself.
And in my very morally superior castle, I reign as the queen. But there, you see, lies my problem. I cannot see to solve another's problems for the beam in my own eye. Though I harangue and rightly so, condemn evil and ego alike, it resides within me. The suburban American housewife who shops at Costco, attends church and is faithful to her husband of 30 years. In other words, crystal clear evil has an opague evil twin and it is self-rightousness. If Isis has a corner on evil acts, the American church has a corner on self-righteousness.
I venture to say, that until we all are able to swallow this bitter pill, we can have no hope of understanding the world. It is all very well to hope for a brighter future, and to give to charities, and world missions, to support the troops, and to buy girl scout cookies, but the real hope of the world is truly a heartbeat away from every one of us.
The Savior told us,
"I am the light of the world"
"I am the bread of life"
"I have living water"
"I have overcome the world"
and most reassuringly --
"I am with you always".
So unless we are looking to him for the quintessential answer, indeed unless we realize that the question is, "Who shall save us?" we may as well all strap on the explosives and give it up now. Death and destruction is the only paradigm that makes sense. Without the hope of the world, it is no wonder people are destroying each other.
One result of recognizing your own weaknesses is compassion for others. Make this small change in your heart daily. Every action has a consequence. We can't afford to go the other way much longer.