I responded very sharply recently to someone who probably thought they were asking a simple question. Ironically, they are clueless how much harm they have done to so many other people and how numerous people in their life have tiptoed carefully around them, talking behind their back, even joking about and ridiculing them. It wasn’t my place to confront them about the kind of person they are, or about all of the people they have harmed, but it felt completely hypocritical to simply respond politely as though all is right in the world.
At some point, we all bear some responsibility for confronting evil both large and small. On Sunday, the church called us to remember our baptisms. In many traditions people who are to be baptized are called to “renounce evil.” Perhaps we need to take that vow more seriously. I think Christians are sometimes simply too polite. I don’t mean that we need to be more unkind or rude, but we all too often allow people to get away with the abuse of others.
Self-deluded people think they can do harmful things without consequences because no one holds them accountable or confronts them for whom they really are. They project their own dysfunction onto others and get away with it because of a conspiracy of silence. Haven’t you ever wondered how on earth some leaders get to the place they are in life? We all are responsible. We have failed to fulfill our baptismal vow to renounce evil in ourselves and confront it when we encounter it in the world. Our fear of confrontation allows it to grow and allows others, particularly those without power, to become victims.
We don’t need to be mean-spirited or fight everyone with whom we disagree, but, when we see people who are abusive, it is our responsibility to push back not for ourselves, but for others who eventually will be their victims. If we do not renounce evil in small forms, we are responsible for letting it grow to larger manifestations. The next thing we know, those evil forces soon have titles like CEO, senator, or president.
Rev. Michael Piazza