It’s funny how the truths of life sometimes reveal themselves.
Case in point; I was sitting in church last week listening to the kids' choir, my young son was one of the singers. They were singing about following God and doing what’s right, it was adorable and as a parent I was proud of him.
There are lots of things kids can do. Singing in the church choir is one of the good things. I was listening and enjoying the sounds as they began singing a song that included lyrics along the line of “God give me a clean heart.
It was then that one of those truths snuck up on me. The comparison between these kids, these absolutely innocent little children and the words of the song: asking God to give them a good and clean heart, that it hit me like a shovel across the forehead.
There was nothing more angelic and decent than these kids. Hearing the words and their voices struggling to stay in tune, their cute little smiles directed to the parents and grandparents in the audience revealed the essence of all that is right in the world. At 7, 8 and 9 years old they have never done anything bad or evil. Theirs is a world of good to be cherished.
The biggest problems these kids have are arguments with a sister or brother, dealing with the injustices of the “T” ball field or the fear of movie monsters and imagined creatures that live under the bed. And that’s the way it should be.
This wonderful scene got me thinking and made me realize that the safe world of childhood I was watching is not the reality that all children are blessed with. Many kids in our society have to deal with real flesh and blood monsters. The ones that beat them, burn them, abuse them and rob their innocence; monsters that sometimes go by the name of mom, dad, uncle, and boyfriend.
We see stories everyday of the three-month old baby that’s shaken to death by someone who was supposed to care for them, the parents that starve their children or the most vile of all, the parents that kill their own kids. Seeing and hearing the children’s choir pointed out a distinct picture of the two different realities, one good, one evil and both painted on a canvas of innocence.
This moment of clarity pushed me to look at the larger societal view of good and evil. In recent weeks the news networks have been abuzz about some of the presidential candidates and their comments about good and evil.
Listening to some of the coverage one could get the impression that anyone who believes that good and evil are real must be a soft-headed fool, naïve, or just plain stupid.
The way this topic was reported, it would seem that accepting as fact the existence of good and evil indicates you must be disconnected from reality, that in truth there is no such thing and everyone, no matter what terrible things they do, are really only misunderstood, deprived in some way, or their actions were the logical and appropriate response to an unfair life situation.
I found this point of view surprising. Life experience has shown me over and over again that evil is not some made-up concept to keep the masses in line, it lives and breathes and can be found doing its business all around us.
Ask any police officer if good and evil are real. They will tell you there is no question about it. We have all seen the face and deeds of real evil in the actions of robbers, killers, drug dealers, abusers, mindless haters and those who disrespect anyone.
The truth is some people are evil and their actions reveal that very clearly, all we have to do is look at what they do without an excuse filter. By looking at what a person does, it is obvious that evil is not based on a person’s: race, gender, orientation or religion, it is based on their actions; plain and simple. Where the motivation and drive to do evil comes from is up for debate, but evil is real.
Likewise, real good can be found all around us too and is demonstrated in the care we take for our neighbors and friends, in the acceptance of someone else’s decision to love who they love, in the act of kindness we pay a stranger in need, no matter who they are, in the sacrifices made by countless numbers of people who donate their time and energy to help the less fortunate among us, and in the voices of angels in a children’s choir.
The real danger in losing sight of the fact that good and evil are real aspects of our human condition, lies not in the theoretical world of modern thought, but in the consequences that follow.
Good must be heralded, appreciated, and valued. Evil must be acknowledged, ostracized and banished from our hearts and the world we inhabit. It is only then that we, as a people, can achieve our potential.
Let me know what you think.