The Contagion of Evil

             When Donald Trump became a candidate for president of the United States, there was a fairly substantial number of Republicans who pushed back against his rhetoric, his name-calling, and his general disregard for diplomacy and decorum.

His fellow candidates decried his lack of character. This man was no serious contender, they seemed to suggest. He was compared to a used car salesman; candidate Ted Cruz called him a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” and a “narcissist.” The battle was brutal. Nothing, though, that Trump said or did riled his supporters, his almighty “base.” There was no lie, no insult, no racial or sexual slur, no put-down of American heroes – nothing – that could pull them from his side, and he won. (https://www.cnn.com/2016/05/03/politics/donald-trump-rafael-cruz-indiana/index.html)

And now, most of the Republicans who criticized him are glued to his side, seeking his help and support, making excuses for him, with no shame.

It is difficult to watch.

What Cruz said about Trump is true: he is, in fact, a pathological liar, and a shameless one at that. But Cruz sucked up to him in order to win his bid for reelection to the Senate, and he won. Lindsay Graham, who had many crass words for Trump, is now acting like his best friend, basically endorsing anything Trump says he wants to do. Mitch McConnell is a shameless sycophant, leading the Senate to honor the president and his wishes over the well-being of the country whose constitution he swore to honor and protect.

The evil of Trump, simply put, spread. The late theologian Walter Wink said that evil is a contagion and said that many people who fight evil will become evil. Specifically, he said, “…the struggle against evil can make us evil and no amount of good intentions automatically prevents this from happening.” (http://www.lqve.org/blog/2018/11/9/the-real-struggle) It seems that the majority of Republicans, who may have prided themselves on being “good” and on the right side of morality, have slipped into Trump’s moat and have found that deep within, they are not all that different from him. Moreover, they do not seem to care; the contagion has infected their very souls.

The partial government shutdown has illustrated the depth of the evil that is bubbling around us. Few of the Republican senators have voiced outrage or concern for the nearly 1 million people who did not get paid. Few have offered any solution which would indicate that they care about or worry about how people are going to get through this economic catastrophe. Graham is on record as having told Trump to go ahead and declare a “national emergency,” not caring about how doing that will seriously undermine the capacity of such an emergency to be called if really needed. (Reports say that there is no “national emergency” on the Southern border.)

Even as discussion about other ways to get the $5.6 billion Trump is asking for, there has been little outrage at the suggestion that money designated to help cities in America hit by natural disasters be redirected to build “the wall.” The so-called “fiscal conservatives” are showing their willingness to spend money at will, and Trump himself said that he doesn’t worry about the consequences of the tremendous debt he is incurring because when that happens, he won’t be around. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-on-coming-debt-crisis-i-wont-be-here-when-it-blows-up.

To not care about those who suffer is evil. To buy into policies that will adversely affect millions of people is evil. To act like your life is the only one that matters is evil. It is as though Trump sneezed and his infected droplets fell all over the souls of the GOP. The evil is spreading, following the path on which other democracies found themselves before they ultimately fell. And the evil is not just spreading among the lawmakers; it is spreading amongst the general population. Extrajudicial, state-sanctioned shootings are not only continuing but increasing; white civilians are calling the police on black people at will; hate crimes are rising, and there seems to be no “doctor in the house,” no lawmaker or judge who is concerned about the decaying of our social fabric.

Walter Wink was right. Evil is contagious, and like a necrotic bacteria, it is eating this country alive.

A candid observation …

 

Evil Doesn’t Win

Ultimately, evil does not win.

It feels like it does. It gets momentary victories, but in the end, it really does not win. Evil seems to have an amazing capacity to produce good.

Our senators did not approve wider background checks for people purchasing guns. Someone planted bombs at the Boston Marathon. A sick young man murdered children and dedicated adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A misguided young man shot and killed a young girl he did not know in Chicago, just days after she returned from performing at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. So many young people die by violence in urban areas, and nobody really seems to care. The Prison Industrial Complex continues to reap profit off the lives of the unfortunate.

Many young men and women have suffered from sexual abuse from the priests they loved and trusted.  Offending priests have been protected, and it stayed quiet for as long as it could. Health care is so expensive that those who must need it cannot afford it. People in this, the wealthiest nation in the world, are hungry; some have to choose between taking the medicine they need and buying food for their children. The elderly – the jewels of any society – are being left alone to fend for themselves, after having lived lives that helped this nation get to where it is. It seems like evil is having its way …but in the end, evil doesn’t win.

A man named Hitler killed millions of Jewish people and the world, for the most part, remained silent. Africans were stolen from their homelands and brought to the Americas  by people wanting to use their labor while belittling their lives. Slavery became big business, and the government refused for so long to pass laws to protect these people who built this country. Even the presidents of our nation looked the other way while slavery and discrimination and lynching persisted. The United States Supreme Court did not protect “the least of these,” a group which included women, children, African – Americans, and others.  The rights of members of the LGBT community have long been ignored, in spite of the fact that all people are children of God, worthy of dignity.

People rejoice when they carry out evil; people rejoice and hug each other when they have done something evil for their own reasons that will result in the suffering of others. Evil was what allowed even churches to turn away a young boy named Ryan White because he had full-blown AIDS.

Evil seems to have the upper hand in so many instances, but in the end, evil doesn’t win. What people mean for evil, God means for good. It may take a while, but God and good really do trump evil. Good is so often pushed so deeply underground that it takes a while for it to bloom, but it always does bloom, eventually. From the evil called slavery came the Civil Rights movement; from the evil on a Monday afternoon in Boston came an interfaith service; from the evil called gun violence that resulted in children and adults in Newtown suffering unmentionable loss came the resolve of parents and relatives, and a former legislator named Gabby Giffords to fight evil, fight the NRA, and to fight complacency.

Evil only seems to win. In the end, it doesn’t. Even evil comes to justice, by and by.

A candid observation.