There are evil people, to be sure, but they are rare. Much of the evil, hurtful, destructive, and damaging work that is done in the world is the result of actions by people who are sick, disturbed, or at least unhealthy. Still more of the evil and harm is done by people who are afraid, mostly for their own position or standing or status or affluence. I have come to the conclusion, however, that even more of the evil done in the world results from people who think they are doing the right thing, but are simply mistaken.
These evildoers often go through life with a sense that they are themselves combatting evil. Rarely do they ever recognize the damage left in their wake or the incredible hurt and harm they do in the world. I have no doubt that Adolf Hitler left this world confused that his just and righteous cause had failed. Those who oppose marriage equality often do it with the most profound sense that they are doing the will of God and can never see that discriminating against law-abiding, taxpaying citizens isn’t in the Bible. Although it is irrational to me, those opposing the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid expansion seem utterly convinced that theirs is a righteous cause, despite the fact that the poor and most vulnerable might die.
And then there’s us. None of these evildoers seem to include us among their numbers, yet the truth is you and I are probably a part of the group responsible for the largest portion of evil. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”
All too often we become partners with evil by our silence, apathy, complacency, or exhaustion. Yes, that last one is mine. There are many causes I care deeply about, but, as someone who works two jobs, it is easy for me to justify not having the time or energy to engage what the Bible calls “principalities and powers.” In the end, though, I must confess it is about choices; it is about where I invest my time and energy and passion; it is about priorities; it is about enjoying the comfort that I have too much to be inconvenienced to do battle for others. In the end, it is about my ability to rationalize that I am not responsible for evil, but every now and then the truth slips out.
Rev. Michael Piazza