Feb 8, 2012

Where does evil come from?

“Bad crops are from God, hunger is from man.” (Chaim Potok, Old Men at Midnight)

Though I do not universally agree with the aforementioned quote, it does say something true. (It need not be fully true to bear truth. It need not be called violence to be destructive.) It is a small thought: a prelude to a larger dialogue; one that has at least three facets, possibly four depending on perspective definitions.

Where does evil come from?

In part, it comes from man, from within each soul. For some it has become a fallen shadow that lingers for a breadth of time. For others it is an unfettered daemon, a curse that leads to madness. That the evil within man is real is difficult to counter. Where it comes from . . . well that is another perplexing topic.

For now the more pressing question, perhaps, is whether that presence within man—whether discovered, inherent, or given—is the end of the matter. Are we to accept it and survive? Are we to strive for fitness against it? Are we to ignore it?

In faith, I believe not.

It does not end there. It lingers, true, but that is all that it can do. It is a doomed spirit, a passing age. Yet how are we to begin to respond to it? To begin, a prelude: one of the greatest challenges that was once overcome. The task still remains, but the light illuminating the way to freedom has shifted. It has become more real. The shadows are not what they once were. They linger, yes, but they are weaker. Still, what are we to do? We are to begin. In each of our lives we must choose to begin what has already begun. We are to continue the beginning.

We are to live.

“At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts.”
(J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)

We are to love.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

We are to confess.

“As we begin to acknowledge our own inner shadow, we become more tolerant of the shadow in others.” (Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers).

Soli deo Gloria. Amen.