Confronting Evil

When I read that the former President wanted members of the military to shoot #BlackLivesMatter protesters last summer, I was shocked but upon reflection, not surprised. After doing some meditating, I had an aha moment. We are dealing with evil. I looked up the word to make sure I was not being hyperbolic.

Merriam-Webster definition of evil – a: morally reprehensible; b: arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct

When I talk with friends and colleagues about the past five years, we will remember that every day we would wake up to another atrocity. Putting Latinx children in cages, barring Muslims from entering the country, having protestors gassed outside the White House, calling African countries shithole countries⁠—I am sure you can construct your own list of his greatest hits.

During the reign of terror, when asked why this was happening, I told friends that I felt that there is evil in the world. I am not sure I believe in the devil but I do know evil is alive and well and thriving. I fear that evil is part of our world and that we must engage in an eternal struggle against it as well as a mission to have more LOVE in the world.

The current insanity around COVID-19 and vaccinations is a vivid example of evil. To my knowledge, Trump and his enablers on Fox have all been vaccinated but they urged their followers not to get vaccinated until the stock market plunged. People are drinking the Kool-Aid and dying. The Big Lie about a stolen election is another manifestation of “morally reprehensible” behavior. Stating that the murderous racist mob that invaded our Capitol was part of a love fest is evidence of bad character.

What do we do to get some of our fellow Americans to jettison their delusions? I think of my own political journey when in 1967 during my freshman year at college, I wholeheartedly supported the war in Indochina and did so because “the President says the war is good and we must do what the President says.” Yikes. Over the course of that year, friends went to Wisconsin to unseat LBJ. Dr. King denounced the war. When Bobby Kennedy opposed the war, I finally changed my mind. People can change deeply held beliefs.

I went to high school with some people who love Trump. I do my best to get them information that might change their minds. One of my classmates told me decades ago that he would not like his white daughter marrying a Black man because of the hassles they would encounter. Years later, he was lecturing our classmates on implicit bias and telling me about his Black relative.

Recently I read a tweet that was on the money vis-à-vis how we fight evil. I am counting on a Black Attorney General and a Black District Attorney to indict the former president but if that does not happen, we need to reach out to those who are followers. We will certainly not change all their minds but the tweet had words of wisdom. Although the tweet was about vaccinations, it is applicable to many issues.

Ariel Edwards-Levy tweeted: “Really feels like the ‘how do we get more Americans vaccinated’ discussion has somehow turned into yet another round of ‘Does persuasion actually work?’ and that the answer is probably once again some variation on ‘Mostly at the margins, but the margins are important.’ “

Most of us have friends or relatives who have views that enable authoritarianism and anti-democratic values to thrive. We have justifiable fears for our nation. We must keep working for Good, for Love, and must fight Evil.