This article was written on September 12, 2001 and is being repeated in memory of the events of September 11, 2001.
As I write, our nation is in the immediate aftermath of the horror of the events of September 11, 2001. Reporters, government officials, business leaders, and military personnel are still trying to determine what happened, why it happened, and how we should procede from here. This quest is quite necessary, but I confess that my mind is elsewhere as I try to determine my own response to the events.
Quite naturally, it is easy to entertain questions about the unfathomable depths of evil displayed by the terrorists. Though I myself am capable of rebellion and wrong, I am incapable of knowing what can possibly compel men and women to go to such far extremes of hate that they can rationalize the cowardly acts that disrupt the security of an entire globe. Many have spoken with me since the events of September 11 about the nature of evil, yet I am not currently inclined to dwell on such thoughts very long. Instead, one penetrating question repeatedly visits my mind. Can I make a difference if I commit myself to evil’s opposite?
The most persistent theme, therefore, in my recent thoughts is to contemplate the nature of love. One of the defining features of evil is the absence of love, and since I want to renounce the horrendous deeds of recent days, I must ask, “Is love really the answer? Should we even dare to hope that our world can be one where love is the force that can ultimately drive human nature?”
I have concluded that on the large governmental scale, it is not reasonable to think that the majority of nations will be able to legislate a way of life among their people that insures the primary ingredients of love: kindness, respect, purity, humility, self-restraint. This world is Lucifer’s domain. The evidence shows the flow of hatred and indignity among the peoples of the earth has been with us since the beginning of mankind. Prior to Noah, for instance, anarchy was so rampant that God had to apply the most severe measure to cease its forward movement. After Noah, human arrogance was thwarted at Babel as God dispersed the clans and separated them with new languages. Subsequently, God’s nation, Israel, was founded, yet it has rarely enjoyed lingering peace. Atrocities of the worst kind have been perpetuated against the Jews for millenia. All around the globe, history has recorded detail after detail of mean and corrupt people despising and oppressing one another on grand scales. Even today we can cite gross evidences on every continent of organizations dedicated to destruction and domination, with little respect for individual dignities.
It is extremely easy to become burdened with pessimism as such thoughts are pondered. History surely indicates that love’s opposite will ever be with us, and in large measure.
Realizing this, I am left staggering as I go back to the question of how I am to respond to bad news of a collosal nature.
My response is this. I am but one man and I have a very small realm of influence. Nonetheless, I am one man who has a realm of influence. Alone, I am not capable of bringing peace and love to the world. Let’s just say that people of Osama bin Laden’s ilk could not care less what one person of my stature thinks. Yet, that is not my concern. I am capable of separating myself from the influence of evil as I determine that I can be one voice of love and that my voice and my choices can make a difference among those in my presence today.
One person choosing love over evil is a small drop in the bucket, given the fact that there are six billion of us that share this planet. The seeming insigificant feeling that this reality conjures is offset by the realization that I am not the only one of those six billion who can so choose.
Today I can put my arms around my family members and say unashamedly, “I love you.” Today I can tell a coworker what I like about him or her. Today I can be a servant and smile inwardly as I realize that one of my choices helped another’s day go more smoothly. Today I can pray for those who have suffered incalculable loss. Today I can be friendly to the attendent at the dry cleaner’s and the clerk at the grocery store and the guy driving next to me. Today I can lend a hand in community service. Today I can spend my money wisely, leaving room in my budget to financially support the things around me that are good and honorable.
I am only one man, yet I am someone who has been blessed by God with the privelege to choose how I will conduct myself in my very small place of influence. I cannot save the entire world from the ravages of evil, but I surely can make a difference to someone.
The basics of love will always matter.