I was awake last night when the news came from Colorado. You’ve undoubtedly heard about it. Was that evil? Yes, without a doubt. It was barefaced evil, frightening and horrifying.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine. I pray for the dead and the living.
Now begins the tiring, weeks-long harranging over politics: the liberals will say gun laws should be stricter while conservatives bemoan the loss of God in the public sphere. Back and forth. Back and forth. Within twenty-four hours, this tragedy has been politicized by both sides, with both sides shrieking about the politicization. Both are seeking political gain; they think there is a political solution for evil.
All these political solutions for preventing evil have seeds of another evil growing within them. But, few recognize this in their own ideology. Encouraging responsible gun ownership does not prevent evil. In fact, it might encourage better trained evil. Stricter gun laws do not prevent evil, as the State easily becomes corrupt with power. None of these deal with a sick universal human nature.
Even the Church thinks politics can cure evil. Conservative Christians try to cure it through shame and control, but, perhaps they don’t realize that these tools of shame are evil in themselves. Certainly, liberal Christians are afraid of addressing it, except in large-scale societal terms. Go read Dr. Olsen’s great post on addressing sin at Haligweorc for a good perspective on the subject. Just consider all those political resolutions to General Convention.
When I heard of the news, I immediately thought of those famous lines of Solzhenitsyn:
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
The problem of evil cannot be solved by the state. It cannot be solved by politics, in spite of what they say. Evil prefers no home but the human heart: both yours and mine. We are all capable of donning a gas mask and murdering senselessly — but, what prevents us? What is that last morsel of good within us that teeters above the gaping maw of evil? What is this beautiful thing that keeps each of us from doing such an unspeakable horror? How do we encourage this good, this beautiful within each other?
On either side, few address that we are only shocked by these kinds of deaths when they happen to white suburbanites. We ignore it when it happens among the poor. It is just another statistic on the evening news when it happens in Syria. Is it evil to see evil everyday and not be moved by it? Is it evil that these tales have become ephemeral white noise? Yes, without a doubt. And how sad it is that we are not moved by those. How sad it is that we are so calloused towards evil.
How sad it is that we are ignore the evil in our own ideas, our own thoughts, our own hands and lips, yet call out the evil in others. Political solutions do not touch the heart. I do not know the solution to evil, but I do know what it is to pray.
Kyrie, eleison. Good Lord, deliver us.
NB: Leave it to The Onion to write the sad, uncomfortable truth about our relationship with evil.