Monday, April 25, 2016

Deep Chasms of Evil

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” …Deithrich Bonhoeffer

“Banality of evil: A phrase coined by philosopher Hannah Arendt that describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.”---intro to Breaking Point;  by C.J. Box

The three a.m. knock meant your neighbors had reported you to the authorities.  This was the case for Nazi Germany and the Russian ‘Gulag Archipelago.’  Today, “France’s 475,000 Jews representless than 1 percent of the country’s population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juif—“dirty Jew”—rang in the streets, as did “Death to the Jews,” and “Jews to the gas.”  This is a form of evil once escalated.  Yet in all its forms it isn’t so obvious.

‘Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process, wrote Milgram after his Yale experiments indicated that the general public is capable of inflicting harm on others.  We are so easily influenced by culture and peers.

What then are we to do?  In an election year when Trump is riding a storm of fear and hatred to popularity.  In Kansas City, he mouthed the words, “I’ll beat the crap out of you,” when describing what he would have done to a protester who charged him in Dayton, Ohio, earlier in the day. “Boom, boom, boom,” he said, mimicking a schoolyard beat down with his fists.  Yet so many support him in the name of change and reaction to the status-quo.  Why are so many so blinded?  Why so easily swept up by the cultural tide?

We are an isolated people.  Few of us have relationships that go deeper than those at work.  There is nobody to speak truth into our lives.  I follow ministries on Instagram for entertainment---I fail to pray for the people who are actually doing the work (God forbid I should maybe also get involved or send cash).  We don’t even know what truth is.  How was it that a Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood against Hitler while his peers did not?  Perhaps it is because in an earlier age of shallow waters he understood that, “The path of discipleship is narrow, and it is fatally easy to miss one’s way and stray from the path…and it is hard to find.  On either side of the narrow path deep chasms yawn.”  So we should use all means to stay on the path; fellowship with truth seekers and adherence to the unchanging scriptures.  Still we will slip and slide.  May He give us grace to be different when all the world around us cites its actions as decent, sensitive and normal.

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