Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 8, 2001
The evil of being dominated by evil
A week before the horrendous events in New York, I saw a bumper sticker that read: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."
Popes, bishops and other faith leaders, who have paid attention for decades, have denounced the current social economic order repeatedly in no uncertain terms. But nobody paid attention to them either.
About a month ago I stumbled across a poem by Leslie Parrott, a mother whose 11-year-old daughter was raped and murdered in 1986. She writes: "I believe we cannot wait till tragedy to reach out and care, to show that the power of love is more pervasive in our world than the power of evil." Wise words.
And now that tragedy has hit so close to home, I hope that it is not yet too late to reach out and care for all those millions we left stranded on the other side of the disparity gap.
"Unless we try to give and accept love and kindness with ease throughout our lives," Parrott wrote, "and use these gifts with determination and creativity, we are at risk that when evil comes calling, it may dominate."
Evil has come calling. Like a huge ball of fire, it exploded in our midst. Like a billowing monster cloud it chased us down the streets in nightmarish frenzy. Minutes later the towers of power crumpled as if they were made of matchsticks, incinerating every unfortunate being trapped in the ruins.
The tragedy elicited an immediate outpouring of love and kindness and a courageous display of determination and creativity to help those most affected by the disaster.
That's the mystery of the human person, that we're capable of both good and evil. It's more complex than "some people are good while others are evil." The capacity for both responses resides within all of us.
Now that the dust has settled and the first stages of grief and shock have passed, we have had a chance to consider our options. Will we allow evil to dominate our thoughts and behaviour and impetuously set off a cycle of violence which begets more violence?
Or are we going to take the time to reflect on the difficult question of why this attack on the pillars of the American way of life happened in the first place?
God's name has been invoked to bless America, its freedom and democracy, and to give us the will and perseverance to rid the world of evil and evildoers.
In almost biblical terms President George W. Bush declared that we are either with the U.S. in this effort, or we are with the terrorists. That does not leave us many options. Even states that have felt the heavy hand of the U.S. military industrial complex in the last 50 years would wish to avoid the wrath of the one remaining superpower.
And what will happen to individual dissent if the Homeland Security Department decides to turn North America into a police state in order to protect freedom? Will it be safe to suggest that the Taliban is a creation of U.S. foreign policy?
Do we dare breathe a word about the terror imposed on Iraq by daily bombing and a 10-year embargo which has cost the lives of over a million children? Will CSIS come knocking on our doors when we question Canada's complicity in all this?
What will happen to our prized freedom then? Should we now shut up, or should we pay closer attention to what is happening in the world and continue to speak out? Surely, it is not yet too late to avoid the evil of being dominated by evil.
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