A church member just phoned. His son serves on one of the destroyers currently deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, one of many sons and daughters over there of worried parents here. We send our young to protect the young of others.
Why? Well, I’m not going to join the political fray here, other than to say: What do we do when faced with utter injustice?
And what is greater injustice than a political leader, such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, unleashing poison gas on hundreds and hundreds of innocent civilians, including children, apparently just to see if it works adequately? This is akin to child sacrifice, something I would hope all find repugnant to its core.
It is called evil. There is no dancing around an act like that. It cannot be justified, supported, endorsed or ignored.
As we struggle with an adequate response, I am hearing parallels with the Nazi plans to exterminate the Jews and how we in the U.S. turned our backs on their plight before and during World War II.
What happens if we turn our collective backs on this atrocity?
But not to turn out backs means we send our own sons and daughters into harm’s way.
Yesterday, I was listening to a radio show discussing the Syrian situation and the possibility of war and suggesting that our intervention is necessary. A veteran phoned in and asked the person who was pushing for U.S. military involvement this question: “Have you ever actually served in a military unit in a war zone?”
And then followed it up with: “Have you ever had to kill an enemy combatant?”
And finally: “How many dead people have you seen just freshly killed lying on the ground?”
Airtime silence followed, something never permitted on radio shows. Finally, the original speaker admitted no direct experience and then followed it with a glib comment.
But let’s not be glib about this. When we step up to fight against evil, we need to know that evil is never vanquished by more evil. Ultimately, evil is vanquished only by love so powerful that even death becomes a small cost to pay.
We must know that we cannot bomb evil out of existence, or scare it out of existence, or negotiate it out of existence. Evil, a crafty, smart, shape-shifting serpent, continually insinuates that God is not really good but is actually not good because God insists on being God and not letting us humans become gods instead.
Evil wins when some human decides that he or she can indeed be the Supreme One, and will do so through the destruction of any who disagree or get in the way. Evil wins when fellow human beings are reduced to objects and prey.
When we try to out-evil evil, we have done nothing more than make it exponentially worse. We must figure out a way to out-good evil, to stand firm as those who will do what is necessary to right it and fight it without losing our own souls in the consequence.
Kind of like Jesus with the tempter in the desert. Yes, kind of like that. It’s a tough sell. Tons easier to compromise with it, grab ourselves some bread, and give what we hope is just an imperceptible nod to the Evil One as we acknowledge his victory and hope we can escape otherwise unscathed.
But we won’t escape unscathed or untouched by it. At that compromise, Evil has bought our souls and knows it. We’ll never be free.
It would be so much easier to turn our backs on this. But can we?
THE REV. CHRISTY THOMAS is the pastor of First United Methodist Church of Krum. She can be reached at 940-482-3482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.