After Uvalde: Is There Evil?

This week I’ve thought about evil. If you’re like me when bad things happen you try to make them make sense; Which isn’t possible this week after 10 people were killed in Buffalo’s mass shooting on May 14 and 19 elementary children and 2 adults were murdered in Uvalde, TX on May 24. Why?

Guns? Mental Health? Isolation? The moral failure of our nation? Probably all of these things – and more. Do we even know the definition of evil anymore?

If you watch TikTok or Netflix I think we attribute evil to characters in movies and books more than we do actions nowadays. We know our villains: Thanos, Darth, the Dark Side. We even like the redemption of bad guys. Think Kylo Ren or Billy in Stranger Things 3. Characters who are categorically dark and bad who in the end have a change of heart. TV and Movies have proved to us characters are complex and multi-faceted; what you see is not always what you get.

I have a tendency to think about people this way too. It’s hard to imagine a person as being wholly evil. But in holding out hope for that change of heart, have we become less likely to detect actions that are in fact evil.

Do you know what the Bible defines as evil? Like off the top of your head. That list is not chiseled into my mind as it might be if I were Catholic, I had to look it up. This is not a comprehensive list but throughout the Bible evil includes greed, murder, pride, causing conflict, deceit, theft and abuse.

In the Bible we are supposed to hate these things. “Those of you who love the Lord, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10a)  We are supposed to hate the act of greed. Of murder. We are meant to be hostile in the face of deceit, theft or abuse. Once an act of evil is committed we are supposed to feel enmity towards the perpetrator of the act. “I’m f—ing angry,” said Phillip Dabney, 53, who grew up in the neighborhood around the Buffalo Tops grocery store. “There’s a normalization of violence against us, African Americans. It prevents us from valuing our own individual lives.”

Evil violence needs to not be normalized. What makes a bad guy a bad guy? Their actions. We have to know the actions of evil when we see them. When we see greed, deceit, abuse we have to see the evil in the actions not just on TV screens and in novels but in our politicians, CEOs, world leaders and religion. We have to overwhelm evil with good.

This week we are not just praying, we are working for change. We are working to overcome evil acts like these.

by Pastor Abigail
Creator | Curator of Everyday Sanctuary
Your Spiritual Life Matters
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