Feeling Helpless In The Face of Such Evil

Friday, December 19, 2014
Caution: Some of the external links contain graphic images.

Do you feel a little bit guilty this Christmas? I have been feeling that way.

I felt guilty that I was out shopping for material possessions for my children while the heads of my little brothers and sisters in Christ were being cut off in Iraq because they said they loved Jesus.

I felt guilty that I was baking sugar cookies on the day that two innocent people lost their lives in a hostage situation in Sydney by a crazed religious fanatic.

I felt guilty that I am planning my holiday at the beach while 132 children in Pakistan will never have the joy of a holiday again.

These are just the headlines from the last few days, my friends. What atrocities are being wrought all over our sad, sad world. What unspeakable things are being done to innocent people. I find it intolerable. I find it unbearable. I think that I cannot take any more cruelty reaching my ears. People blame religion. People blame politics. People blame history. But really, it is just dark and evil hearts who have no love, no mercy, no empathy. People who have allowed the hate and the evil to consume their souls.

And I started thinking about what I can do. What can I do to help these innocents. What can I do to help them?

My instinct wants to rush into their countries and find these poor dear ones and bring them home to New Zealand. To my beautiful land of peace and freedom. I want my Prime Minister to do the impossible - to set a shield of protection around our shores, to make us invisible to the outside world. To stop the evil coming here.  To push back those dark, looming, billowing clouds of wickedness.

But a shield of protection will not keep the evil out. Evil is in the heart of man. We who live here have been privileged to grow up in a peaceful society, to follow our dreams, to lay our heads down in rest at night in peace. But the cost of this peace is not cheap. We have bled for it. We have sacrificed our sons of this land to have this peace.

Those men of old in those old wars weren't fighting for a flag. They weren't fighting for a government. They were fighting for their mothers who loved them. They were fighting for their sisters and their daughters so they could live without fear. They were fighting for their fathers and their sons and their brothers and their fellow country men and women who could live in beauty and have love and dream their dreams and live them out without fear. They were fighting so the people they loved could lay their heads down and sleep at night in peace.

Sometimes I get irritated with the frivolous news reports in the paper or on television when there is such evil in the world. It seems insulting to the suffering to have to read about Kim Kardashian's bottom, and where you can buy the latest outfit that the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing, and some new, exciting movie that is coming out. But I realized that actually, these silly little things are so desperately important. We have to keep it going. This is what makes freedom beautiful. That we can talk about fluff. That we have the luxury to indulge ourselves in such worthless things.

That we can write letters to the editor. That we can moan and complain about our local government and our national government. Oh what a privilege to complain about it. Oh what a privilege to be able to fight for justice and stand up for the poor and the hurting, and to keep our leaders accountable.  Oh what a privilege to shun the evil and embrace the good. This is what liberty is. Always fighting for the good. Never resting. Always pushing back evil.

And now it is our turn to fight for the beauty of freedom.  The answer to our fight may not lie in the might of guns and ships and fighter planes - these may be necessary, but it is not our decision to make. But there is a way each one of us can fight the evil. We who feel helpless in the face of such evil. We can help push back that cloud of blackness that threatens to envelop us.

We can fight for the beauty of life by living it.

And living it means making deliberate, conscious choices to be kind in the little things. Smiling at strangers. Being loving with our words and our actions. Helping our neighbour even if they are different to me. Celebrating our festivities. Thinking less of ourselves and more about other people. Immersing our children in Christmas celebrations and holidays at the beach. Wrapping up my toys and chocolates. Decorating my Christmas tree and singing carols in the street. Let's fight back the darkness with light. Let's fight back with what we know - freedom. Let's fight back with love.

I want to finish this with a quote from a favourite book from my childhood. It is one that had a deep impact on me - whenever I hear of war, I always think of this. It is from Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame). For me, it is one of the best books (even though it is fiction) of what it must have been like to live through a war, to have your way of life threatened. I hope it encourages you too, in these dark days. It is an excerpt from a letter written by a soldier to his sister.

"Rilla, the Piper will pipe me 'west' tomorrow. I feel sure of this. And Rilla, I'm not afraid. When you hear the news, remember that. I've won my own freedom here–freedom from all fear. I shall never be afraid of anything again–not of death–nor of life, if after all, I am to go on living. And life, I think, would be the harder of the two to face–for it could never be beautiful for me again. There would always be such horrible things to remember–things that would make life ugly and painful always for me. I could never forget them. But whether it's life or death, I'm not afraid, Rilla-my-Rilla, and I am not sorry that I came. I'm satisfied. I'll never write the poems I once dreamed of writing–but I've helped to make Canada safe for the poets of the future–for the workers of the future–ay, and the dreamers, too–for if no man dreams, there will be nothing for the workers to fulfil–the future, not of Canada only but of the world–when the 'red rain' of Langemarck and Verdun shall have brought forth a golden harvest–not in a year or two, as some foolishly think, but a generation later, when the seed sown now shall have had time to germinate and grow. Yes, I'm glad I came, Rilla. It isn't only the fate of the little sea-born island I love that is in the balance–nor of Canada nor of England. It's the fate of mankind. That is what we're fighting for. And we shall win–never for a moment doubt that, Rilla. For it isn't only the living who are fighting–the dead are fighting too. Such an army cannot be defeated."

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