[Note: This blog entry is directly tied into the one from earlier today (A Sick Terrorist and a Disgraced Football Player) Read that one first and then this one.]
The real problem we face is something I equate to fighting fires. If fire fighters go into a structure that has been burned, there is a great deal to learn. We can see where the fire started. We can see how the fire spread. And we can determine if and when we should rebuild on that spot. But we are confused if we think that any of that directly is fighting a fire. It might help us to fight in the future but it is not actually fighting a fire. If it is fire we want to fight, then we need to go where the fire is, not where the fire was.
Be it Vick, Megrahi, or Calley (note, I should have brought up William Calley, the officer in charge during the Mai Li Massacre during Vietnam in my previous entry whose apology last week at a Kiwanis Club luncheon generated the same reaction from many as feelings about Vick and Megrahi) they all make us wince. How could human beings do such things? But really, it isn’t these men (who we really don’t know) that revolt us. It is the crimes they are accused of – animal abuse, terrorism, and war crimes that we know at our core are so wrong.
Having a visceral reaction against evil is a good sign. I take it as a part of the image of God within us. But we make a mistake if we think that punishments are ever a serious determent to evil. It certainly didn’t stop any of those three men from committing the acts that they did even though society had long punished people for all three of these crimes.
It is tempting to keep our minds in the past (or future). But how many people died in Rwanda even while we were saying “never again” as we watched movies like Schindler’s List? And how many people are dying today in Darfur as I type this? How many women are being carted off into slavery? How many North Koreans are starving? How many children in the 3rd world are dying from failing to get low cost immunizations? Yet, this generates little press or passion. It’s easier and safer to stay in the past than to engage in the present.
And we must be most careful if we think we are squeaky clean and evil is just “out there.” The real enemy is sometimes closer than we ever expect.
God finds evil abhorrent. We should not blindly accept it nor rationalize it away. And we should fight against it. But at the same time, we’ve got to keep our focus on where the enemy is more than where the enemy was. Otherwise, we are just studying a building that was burned and ignoring the fact that the fire just jumped next door.
All the best and In Christ,