Saturday, July 21, 2012

Overcoming Evil

     I was going to blog about something different today, but in light of the horrible events in Aurora, Colorado, I just don't feel that lighthearted.  I want to talk about it. I want to really think about it. I want to process what it means, to me and to all of us.

     First of all, I hate it when such nighmarish attacks are referred to by the Media as "a tragedy."  Really? A tragedy is when something horrible happens due to non-preventable, unforseen accidents.  Like when a bridge collapses, or a flat tire causes a wreck, or a tornado rips through a community.  But the murders in Aurora were not a "tragedy".  They were due to premeditated, unmitigated, unadulterated Evil.  Nothing less.  Please don't diminish it by calling it a "Tragedy." Call it what it is.  Expose evil with truth. 

     Secondly, I hate it when one deranged lunatic (or a group of them, such as on 9-11) pull off a cowardly attack that causes such horrific pain not only to the immediate victims and their families and friends, but to the entire nation as a whole.  I wish we could avoid glorifying such events with endless coverage on TV and radio.  I wish it did not affect every aspect of life in America, economically, socially and even emotionally.  I mean who on earth wants to go watch the new Batman movie now, anyway? Certainly not I.  Although I never wanted to see it to begin with, but now I have an aversion to the thought of it--ever.

     But the truth is, we need to focus on it, at least for a while.  We need to think about it.  We need to grieve with those who are grieving.  Because when one group of people, or even one innocent person, is treated with such cruelty and violence it absolutely hurts us all.  There is no denying it or getting away from it.  One injustice causes invisible ripples that, just like the "Butterfly Effect" eventually touches each and every one of our lives.  It alters us, however minutely, forever.  If you harm one of us you harm us all.  So we do need to pause, to take a deep breath, and to grieve.

     One way we can express our grief in a healing way is to find some small act of kindness that we can do for someone else.  Jesus said, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rom 12:21)  Maybe that means sending flowers and a note of condolence.  Maybe it means giving a donation to a worthy cause. Or maybe it means just commiting a Random Act of Kindness to someone not even related to the inital event.  Today I am going to make a get well card and plan a meal for a neighbor who is returning home this week from the hospital.  I will do it with those suffering folks in Aurora in mind.  We can each make our world a better and kinder place with the smallest of acts of goodness.  

     Then, just as after a death in the family, once we have given ourselves time to properly grieve and do what needs to be done to deal with the consequences of a loss, we need to know how to move on.  We must not let even the worst loss allow rob us of moving forward on our own personal mission in life.  We can't let the force of an evil attack against us to bring us down, but must use the strength that was launched against us--like a good Tai Chi warrior--as a force for defense.  In the martial arts one learns the art of non-resistance; stepping back away from the blunt trauma and then using that power against the perpetrator to throw him off balance to harm himself in his own efforts against us.  That is how we become stronger, by assimilating whatever comes to destroy us to actually make us stronger than we were to begin with.  Out of darkness comes light.

     And finally, we can learn something from every adverse circumstance to make us not only stronger emotionally, but wiser and more compassionate.  Sometimes it we are even changed in ways we could never have imagined. 

     I used to be an avid quilter.  Tradionally speaking.  I made quilt after quilt by using traditional patterns and traditional methods, and enjoyed it very much as a creatively productive outlet.  But after 9-11 happened I felt hollowed out inside, creatively speaking.  I had no joy, no zeal, no interest in making anything.  I thought I would never quilt again.  That is until, one year later, I made a new kind of quilt.  It didn't come from a pattern--it came from my inner yearning to express my grief over 9-11.  It wasn't made in any traditional methods, but rather I decided what I wanted it to look like and then set about figuring out how to make it come out that way.  I figured out how to make copies of the newspaper headlines printed onto fabric.  I figured out how to take red dye and splatter it onto fabric to look like the blood of every person slaughtered on that day.  I learned how to dip my finger in a resist medium and use it to draw six pointed stars onto a blue background to look like Israel's Star of David.  I used them all to create an American flag.  I named that quilt, "We Remember."  It hangs on a wall in my home to this day.  When I look at it I remember that horrific day, and how it changed my world, and I will never forget how evil can so easily destroy goodness.  And how goodness will always rise from the ashes. 

     This began a long series of creations that I could never have made before.  I will never again be pressed back into the old box of doing--and thinking, and speaking--what is expected by others. Not long after that I stopped being "polite" in the presence of others who were saying unkind or ignorant things. I learned to push back.  I learned to defy, in my own small way, the tyranny of "not making waves" to be accepted by the "Politically Correct" in my circle of friends.  In fact, I changed my circle of friends. Today I have perhaps fewer friends, and am less "popular" by some standards.  But I have friends who are real friends, and they are friends worth having.  Better to have a single gold coin than a pot full of fool's gold.  And better to be one who speaks truth than one who compromises with untruth.  Evil can, indeed, be overcome by good.

"The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter
 until full day." (Prov 4:18)

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