Do you ever wake up in the morning, turn on the news, and then think to yourself, “Wow! This world is screwed up!” I know I do. It’s like half the world is on crack, and the other half, the ones still sane, are hiding out in their mom’s basement.
Every day I log on the internet and see headlines like this:
“Promiscuity and Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the Rise”
“Muslims Cut off Christian’s Head for Not Renouncing Christ”
“World on Brink of World War 3”
“Drug Cartels Operate Unopposed in America”
“America has become a Godless Nation”
“U.S. Power Grid on Verge of Cascading Failure”
“Economic Collapse Inevitable!”
It’s no wonder suicide rates are skyrocketing among teens. But it’s not just the young. A growing number of retired folks are bailing out early. Most of you know I teach concealed carry classes. I had a student in her seventies a while back. She was shooting a five-shot revolver which had a long, hard trigger pull. Out on the range she didn’t have the strength to pull the trigger one-handed. So she went to the gun store and paid for a trigger job. Then she went home, put the gun to her head and, with the help of the lightened trigger pull, blew her head off.
I can understand why young people might lose hope. They don’t have the benefit of seeing bad times come and go. They haven’t lived long enough to realize that time heals all; that nothing lasts forever except the earth and sky; that all they have to do is gut it out and things will eventually get better.
But what about old folks; the ones who survived the depression; the ones who fought and defeated the Nazis; the ones who survived the multi-decade cold war? We call them “The Greatest Generation.”
Why are they losing hope?
Buddha says “all of life is suffering.” I can get why some people would buy into that. The times are hard and getting harder. But let’s keep it in perspective. Times have always been hard. There’s always been a ruthless dictator wanting to conquer civilization and enslave his captives. Were the headlines any better in centuries past?
“Adam and Eve Bite the Big One, All Humanity Lost!”
“God to Destroy Entire World with Flood, Film at Eleven!”
“Pharaoh Conquers Known World”
“Ruthless Babylonian Hordes – Coming to a City Near You!”
“Persia Conquers Babylonians – There’s a New Tyrant in Town!”
“Brutus Slays Caesar – Roman Nightlife in Decline”
“Atilla the Hun – Barbarian gets Bad Press – PR Consultant Beheaded”
“Spanish Inquisition – Queen invites Thousands to Outdoor Barbecue – Potato Salad not Included”
“Bubonic Plague – 150 Million Die – Doctors Estimate Cure in 3,000 Years – HMOs Overwhelmed”
So, in perspective, the world has never been all warm and fuzzy. The strong dominate the weak. One people enslave another. It is the natural order of things for ruthless warriors to spread out and conquer. And, when they do, the weak and innocent suffer.
Nothing has changed; this is the way it’s always been.
Evil has always caused suffering.
Good has always fought evil.
I’m reminded of Sir Edmond Burke’s famous quote.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
And I think that’s what I worry about most. Are there enough good people left to defeat evil? Have we all lost hope?
If I’m honest about it; if I look at present perils in the light of history’s timeline, I can see we are no worse off today than we were a thousand years ago. The names of the players change, but the problems we face are like re-runs of old movies.
Sometimes I’m tempted to withdraw, to give up, but I fight against that. I suspect that many in the world have lost hope – have looked evil in the face and surrendered. It’s important to note that every time good people surrender, evil wins. And when evil wins, innocent people suffer and die.
Life will always have pain. But for me, the question is this: “Does my suffering have purpose? Does my life add light or darkness to the world?”
If I give up, the world suffers more and hope is lost. But if I fight, if I stand up against evil, if I shake my fist in his face, if I raise my sword in defense of the innocent to defeat evil … then, at least then … I can die with honor, giving my children a respite from pain, and a chance for peace in their time.
And that’s why I write; why I’m willing to die for what I believe in. And, if enough good people fight beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder in defiance of evil, good truly can win.
A life lost battling evil is a life well lived.
To me, JR Tolkien is the master of good over evil.
I remember the scene in the Mines of Moria when all hope seemed lost. Frodo and Gandalf are talking as powerful evil lurks in the darkness.
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.
And now, the ring has passed on to you. Will you fight against it? What will you do with your time? Will you give in to despair? Or will you raise your sword in defense of the weak. Always remember: there are other forces at work in this world besides the will of evil. Find something greater than yourself to believe in – and fight for it.