Pay close attention to what gets blamed for the Newtown school shooting. Evil is to blame for these horrific murders and nothing else. Listen closely to the rhetoric over the coming weeks. How often will evil be named as the cause of the horror?
Not often, I suspect.
Some dispute the existence of conscious, deliberate, unseen evil. Perhaps that’s why blame for the murderous horror will fall elsewhere. Some consider the mention of evil in public discourse to be unseemly. Belief in pure deliberate evil can be inconvenient, because it includes other necessary beliefs.
Failing to name it evil lets evil flourish. If the sight of planes slamming into the World Trade Center towers wasn’t enough to comfortably believe in evil, maybe the horror in Connecticut will be.
Denial of conscious, deliberate evil makes it easier to deny the existence of conscious and deliberate good. If deliberate evil exists, then deliberate good must also. Otherwise human history would be one long ruinous loop of Stalin’s gulags and Pol Pot’s murder factories. Thankfully, those black times are broken up by goodness.
Evil seeks to destroy human life, human dignity, and even civilizations. Goodness and light offer an alternative. The sort of world we have is determined by what you and those around you choose. A man in Connecticut accepted evil.
Conditions, rough upbringings, or worldly objects are convenient explanations when evil manifests itself for all to see. Find any news account today and inventory what is being blamed for the mass killing of children.
But the systematic and deliberate slaughter of innocents is not a new story. It happened once before, after the arrival of an alternative way. It was also featured in the industrial scale eradication of European Jewry.
Spare no child of light, and usher in an age of darkness.
How vile that the evil in Connecticut arrived in this season of light and season of lights. All of those innocent smiles and joyous expectations destroyed by a black wretched thing.
We’ll hear lots of bluster about how to prevent more school house murders. Nearly all of it is meaningless. The only way to prevent such horror is to choose to love your neighbor as yourself, to respect the dignity of human life, and to follow familiar laws thousands of years old.
Easier said than done, right? How could the goodness in many prevent the evil in one?
A culture that values goodness is a necessary prerequisite to discouraging evil. A culture of light and life relegates evil to the diminishing margins. This is a story as old as time. A culture of violence toward life and toward the dignity of every human eventually produces violence toward life, period. What else would you expect to happen?
The Romans were dumbfounded by the strange stubborn Jewish sect that prayerfully martyred themselves to Roman savagery. The intoxicated and bloodthirsty roars of the coliseum could not overcome the transformational power of the new alternative. Rome crumbled while the philosophy of those martyrs transformed the world.
That’s the story of this Christmas, and that’s why the evil in Newtown must be called by its true name.