Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When I see unspeakable evil...

How do you feel when you read the news and see that human beings are doing profanely evil things? The response I see on social media is usually outrage. We get angry. We ask "why?" and we seek to place blame. How could someone do such a thing? Then we go on to imagine how we would punish the responsible parties if we were in charge of the situation. We regret that we live in a relatively ordered society where justice comes about slowly if at all. We end up mad at the perpetrator, mad at the "system" for allowing it, mad at our society for harboring it, mad at God for not preventing it. We end up mad and frustrated.

'cause pirates are evil
I feel those things, but I also feel something else. Maybe you do too. I feel sorry. Recently, every time I read about some new horror brought about by a government or a corporation or a mom or a  coach, I find my self apologizing to God. I feel really sorry that we are this way. I feel very much desperate to see humanity saved from itself. I think, when I see evil and I respond with righteous indignation that it is only wishful thinking. I am repulsed, because I like to think that I would never stoop to such inhumanity. Seeing the evil outside of myself, I am for a moment distracted from the evil that is inside me. I truly believe, for a while anyway, that given the same life situation I would have acted completely differently and avoided the long string of errors that so many others have fallen into. Ultimately I know that is a lie. I have evil desires and deathly thoughts that haunt my flesh. By the Grace of God--literally!--I have seen those desires and thoughts for what they are. They are a result of my own death. They come from the ghost that Paul called "the flesh" that haunts me until the time of my death. When I think about it, it seems like death and evil are really the same thing. Evil is death foreshadowed, and death is evil's ultimate consummation.

These ideas, as distasteful as they are, do teach me something. There is something special about humans. We must know that we are made for something better than this. We inherently know that there is something wrong with death. For all that we've been through over millennia we've never fully grown accustomed to the fact that we all die. We have records of billions of humans just like us who have died before us, and yet we still fight against it. If evolution is the only guiding process for our creation and development, then why haven't we evolved in such a way as to be at peace with our fate? Or on the other hand why do we recognize evil at all? I'm not saying this is proof against evolution or anything. I'm sure there are all kinds of plausible theories about the answers to my questions. What I'm saying is that when I look at our situation I see something bigger at work.

I see that we as humans are above-all
shocked by "inhumanity." When people commit atrocities against their fellow humans we feel that we have all lost something. Of course, we have. We tend to think of ourselves as individuals, which is true; but, we are also part of a whole. When the Bible says, "through one man sin entered the world," it is not just saying that Adam had an influence on all future generations. Through one man an entire species became guilty before God. Call God a racist (speciesist?) if you want to, but in the bigger scheme of things we are accountable for all the sins of humanity. Anytime a human commits an act of evil it was done by "one of us." Whether we want them to represent us or not that's the way it is.

Think about this, when an animal attacks a human our reaction depends on how "human" the animal is. When a wild lion attacks a human we feel sadness for the human and maybe fear of the lion, but we aren't really angry with the lion. It was after all a wild animal just doing what wild animals do. But when a dog attacks a human we feel, to a larger degree anyway, outrage. Dog's are much more "human" in that they live with us and seem to respond with person-like emotions. I guess we feel like they ought to know better since they are integrated into human society. When a dog acts inhuman it is seen as a betrayal.

How much more so are we repulsed by humans behaving inhumanely? We'd like to believe that such things can't happen, yet we know all too well that inhumanity lives inside of each of us. There is a betrayer embedded in all of our psyches, and we have a fear that the betrayer is trying to run the ship. We see it in others and the fear of our own evil makes us react with passion. Understanding this, when I see unspeakable evil, I am driven to my knees in humble prayer.

Father forgive us, we know not what we do.