“Be Good in Spite of Evil” Sub-Pages:
Recognize the Problem of Evil
Many people in our culture today are uncomfortable talking about the idea of evil, partly because they generally don’t like to label people’s actions as good or bad. Perhaps they think they have no right to make a judgement. But it doesn’t take a lot of digging around history or modern culture to recognize the problem of evil.
Let me confess, however, that I have never read any of Father Brown except for a brief short story or two. I dislike mystery stories, however noble the art. To be sure, I have cited time without number Chesterton’s remark that we should commit our murders all the time, but by writing about them, in mystery stories. This, after all, Plato’s point: that knowledge of evil is not evil, but good. Chesterton was quite sure that one of the great arguments for being a Christian was that it enabled us to understand the real nature and depths of evil in ourselves and in the world. – Fr. James Schall SJ, Another Sort of Learning
Choose the Good, Even If Nobody Else Seems To
Fight Evil with Good
Fight Clean and Fair
There are, of course, some situations, where a strong, immediate and sometimes even violent response is necessary and appropriate, such as doing your best to disable a terrorist threatening passengers on public transportation. That’s not what our focus is here, but I don’t want to discount it, and I think most people would agree that there are extreme situations requiring extreme and immediate action.
Another extreme situation is domestic violence. If you are being abused, please find safety and help!
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or website
Some people feel that an extreme situation justifies stretching the truth or believing anything negative about those on “the other side” (and arguing against anything negative said about those on “our side”).
For example, in a local election I witnessed a number of years ago, there were two pro-life candidates in the primary. One was more thoroughly pro-life than the other, but the latter one was moving in a more pro-life direction. The first candidate sent out an 11th hour robo-call implying that his opponent was moving in a less pro-life direction.
Some people tried to justify it in various ways, because they really liked the candidate or because he was only “implying” something, but it was really flat-out lying and just plain wrong.
It is fair to note here that we are not at all required to vote for candidates, no matter how good their positions look, who have proven themselves to be dishonest.
The Reaction Problem
Extreme situations and politics aside, my focus here is on the more ordinary conflicts between people, both inside and outside of the family.
We need to be aware of how we are affected by our emotions, especially in the midst of a verbal confrontation of some sort. It is generally better to defuse and walk away than allow things to get ugly and uncharitable. It’s not necessarily a problem to be emotional in the midst of a serious discussion, but we have to be aware of the danger of responding inappropriately to things.
Although knowing ourselves is important and helpful here, for most people, at least, the grounding of a relationship with Christ is necessary to accomplish this. I think this is especially true in our current cultural climate where many devout Christians are duped into living their lives as a reaction to the culture rather than to Christ.
The Escalation Problem
Violence, even emotional violence, tends to breed more violence as aggressors continue to react to each other. Not only do these sorts of confrontations go nowhere, but they can also cause considerable harm.
I recommend watching the musical West Side Story (1961; Natalie Wood) because it displays a clear sense of the reality of evil and how it affects peoples’ lives and because it so powerfully illustrates the problem of the escalation of violence.