This is the time of year when the names of big-name colleges should fill our conversations as we discuss football and bowl game prospects. But this year, we’re discussing less familiar colleges – Umpqua, Northern Arizona, Texas Southern in just the last ten days – trying to make sense of a seemingly endless stream of tragedies and angrily debating the best course of action.
Mark’s sister is a professor at Virginia Tech and her son was an undergraduate there in 2007; they were both on campus the morning 32 people were murdered by a lone gunman. Every time I hear about a campus shooting, I remember the sharp panic as we waited to hear that Kathy and Ethan were all right. That panic, of course, does not compare to the pain felt by those who lost loved ones that day.
But I’m glad I remember that awful feeling. There is danger, as President Obama pointed out this week, in becoming numb to these tragedies. As people of God, we must keep our hearts open to the pain in the world, even if that pain breaks our hearts again and again. We are charged, as His children, to care for each other, to stand up for justice, to battle evil wherever we find it. And to do that, our hearts must be open and our ears attuned to the cries of our brothers and sister who suffer from violence, war, poverty, and all the incursions of evil into our world.
The march of evil is relentless. If we do not stand in its path, it continues. If we turn our backs, it prevails. As Edmund Burke said more than two hundred years ago, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Let us stand together, willing to feel and to think and to act. Let us lift up the fallen and speak for the silenced. Let us seek out ways in which to banish darkness and promote light. Let us keep our hearts open to each other and to the Lord.
“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry...” Psalm 34:14-15