The Evil That Men Do

I was saddened and horrified yesterday to see the news from Waukesha, Wisconsin of an SUV barreling through a holiday parade filled with high school marching bands, a children's dance team, and many others. 

The reports this morning indicated that five people lost their lives, and at least 20 others were seriously injured.  A suspect has been taken into custody, but there's no indication as of yet why he did what he did. 

My heart is hurting today as I think about how something as sweet and wonderful as a small-town holiday parade could have become the scene of such tragedy and loss. 

There's so much that's wrong with our world right now.  It's enough to shake anyone's faith.  

As I write this, I can't stop thinking about a quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: 

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”

It feels that way sometimes doesn't it?  It feels as though evil just keeps scoring victories, and we find ourselves waiting for God to respond, to hit back, to do something, anything to turn the tide. 

We have a choice in these moments when we are wondering whether God is watching.  We can choose to let feelings of despair overcome us, and send us hurtling toward fear, dread, or misguided rage... Or we can choose something else instead.  

Instead of despair, we can choose to follow in the Way of Christ and lean into defiant hope, and clear-headed truth-telling, which is the only way that we can beat back the darkness with the light that is within us. 

Henry James once wrote:  If we have ever had any virtue amongst us, we had better keep hold of it now. 

I couldn't agree more.  But in order for us to hold on to what virtue there is among us and within us, we need to be able to see ourselves as God sees us and embrace the grace that God offers freely and abundantly to us all.  

Because we can safely say that any act of evil, violence, hatred, or bigotry has its roots firmly grounded in fear, which (I might add) was most likely planted by fearmongers, outrage peddlers, cynical opportunists, and the like. 

Those of us who claim to follow Jesus need to plant different roots,  to show a different view of the world, and what God wants for us and for all of Creation.  

Fr. Richard Rohr recently wrote about a shift that needs to take place in us if we are going to become agents of positive and life-giving change:  

Jesus did not come to change God's mind about us.  It did not need changing.  Jesus came to change our minds about God--and about ourselves--and about where goodness and evil really lie.  

This shift in our thinking is so very important for the kind of transformation that we long for in the world around us.  And you and I have an opportunity to show our world what it looks like when God gets what God wants.  

Evil doesn't get to win---no matter what form it takes, and no matter how powerfully it exerts itself.  It doesn't get to win.  

And while it is important to be truthful and bold when calling out evil in all of its forms, we must not let ourselves become cynical or hopeless.  Because there is goodness in the world as well, and we must let goodness be lifted up over and again for all to see. 

May it be so for you today and every day from this day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 

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