Yesterday, the candlelight of hope flickered. So dark is the world already; none of us needed a reminder that there exists a thing called evil, but that’s what we found in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Evil arrives wearing many faces. Sometimes it’s unfiltered, erasing any illusion of moral relevancy. At other times, it’s abstract and confounding. Small evils contribute to our general sense of societal decline. We grow familiar with them—so familiar and tired, that when the big ones happen, they hit us with a profound sense of pessimism.
Americans suffer a barrage of tiny evils every day. A recent example that comes to mind is Ann Coulter’s joke about killing Meaghan McCain, but hate comes at us from both sides of the political aisle, as we all well know. The sheer volume of all this seeded hatred has long since grown into twisted, fanged-toothed forests, leaving much of the nation lost inside; a day in the life in America.
But where there is darkness, so is there light. In Boston, those who rush to help. Those spectators who chose without thinking (of course!) to give their coats to warm up a cold runner, a phone to check on loved ones, a ride to get someone where s/he needed to be. One can easily imagine the outpouring of trust and love in times like those. Such is our collective horror at finding the worst of humanity, that the best of humanity is instinctually drawn from us.
And while sometimes it is necessary to meet evil with force, as a matter of survival, can we not all agree that we’re living in a world out of balance? Do we not feel, collectively, as a society, that the darkness has gotten out of hand? We’ve got wars waiting for us in the queue. How does the story end in Syria? How many more chances can North Korea get? Iran?
I believe that “good” and “evil” may be best understood as something that sits on a scale, in balance, or not. Throughout history we find examples of enlightened periods and those contrasting spans of utter darkness. The pendulum swings, and we might be satisfied with that if that was really what had us worried. But that isn’t exactly what has us worried.
We worry because of the incomparable power humanity wields in 2013 as compared to, say, 1113. The Templars couldn’t get their hands on a nuclear bomb, nor was the entire planet critically balancing their civilization on a woefully vulnerable electronic infrastructure.
Today we face grave consequences to live in imbalance. Whether it is the threat of a sudden, cataclysmic environmental change, nuclear war, or even a new American civil war, we’re coming to realize that we’re living through a period of darkness. We’re living through a period of grave imbalance. But that isn’t a reason to despair. It’s a reason to hope. The pendulum will swing back because it must. Better yet, we can grease its axis.
We can remember to plant the seeds of hope, mercy, and love, through our actions and attitudes. We can remember the inspirational power of hope to transform the world around us. We can choose to involve ourselves in acts of service. We can volunteer to ladle food at the homeless shelter. We can sit on a board of directors for a worthy civic organization. We can build homes for Habitat for Humanity. We can get involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters. We can fight the darkness with the light. These things must grow for us to find balance. These are things that needn’t involve politics or government; they merely require our robust sense of conscience.