Sadness. Anger. Disbelief.
That’s what I’ve seen proliferating across my social media feeds this week as we all try to process yet another tragedy.
The bombs at the Boston marathon followed too closely on the heels of the death of Rehtaeh Parsons, the Halifax teen who committed suicide after being allegedly gang-raped. It’s as though society’s careening into a crater we’re digging ourselves; the violence, the anger, the hatred, the screaming. It’s overwhelming. It’s sickening. It’s discouraging.
Edmund Burke wrote, ?The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.? It’s easy to mouth sayings, but how are we supposed to do something? Or what, specifically, can we do against all this violence, all this cruelty?
The answer may be simpler than you think.
Increased safety measures, awareness campaigns, and petitions to change laws and policies: All of these are good things, sure. Grassroots anything is a good thing. But the problem with grassroots is that you need to make sure you really are at the root. And while talking about bullying and guns and terrorism is good and helpful, It’s never going to be complete enough, because it doesn’t go quite all the way.
The problem is that in all our solutions, the thrust is in the wrong direction. we’re trying to change the world. But we can’t even hope for a fraction of success if we don’t first work at changing ourselves.
Edmund Burke might have meant that standing by and watching evil being done is as good as giving the evildoers a helping hand. But maybe he meant something bigger. Maybe he meant that in the end, it comes down to choices. That each of us, every day, every hour, every minute, even, is faced with a choice: how will we spend this time? What will we do? How will we react? How will we look at someone, think about someone, speak to someone?
Selfishness, pride, greed, anger, resentment?all are players in the ?bigger? bad decisions we see in the news. But they’re also present in our own poor decisions, and That’s a scary thought. Maybe our choices will never go anywhere near as far as mass killings or shootouts or even bullying a kid with glasses. But it doesn’t mean that bit by bit, cumulatively, our small little choices throughout the day won’t make a difference for good or for evil.
So today, take some time to remember all the victims of violence and cruelty. Then take a look inside, and never stop looking; because when we don’t bother to control ourselves, then we are, like Burke said, just standing around doing nothing.
And That’s the quickest way to let evil win.