“All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” This famous quote by Edmund Burke is probably one the most important quotes I know of that is not in the Bible. Actually, biblically, it’s not quite right because evil triumphs when God allows it to, but that’s God’s business, not ours. From our perspective, this statement is dead on. Do nothing and you are making sure that God can’t do anything through you.
A good friend of mine who has written a lot lately about the current political and social malaise we find ourselves in in this country concluded in his last piece: “Don’t make it worse, and don’t sit this one out.” That caught my attention because I think that is exactly what many of us are doing, or at least I can speak for myself.
One way of making it worse would be to be critical and sarcastic about the way things are. I am guilty of this. It’s just so easy because there is so much to knock down. Lately I’ve been looking at the newspaper with a friend and I often hear him laughing over what he’s reading. Thinking he’s looking at the comics, I ask him what’s so funny and I’m beginning to expect now that he will tell me it’s something from the front page that is making him laugh. It does seem these days that if you are not crying over the news, you are laughing over it. Mostly, its a sarcastic laughter because much of what is going on is so hard to believe. You have to do something. But tearing down is the easy way. Any fool can tear down, but it takes a man or woman of God to build up. We need to guard against making things worse by focusing on what is wrong and declaring ourselves helpless to change it.
One of our millennial friends surprises me often by being optimistic about the world when I have a tendency to be pessimistic. It catches me off guard, and makes me think. I’ll make a derogatory statement about something in the news and he will counter me with something hopeful. We need to all think about how we can do this. I’m speaking of our good friend Alexander Klein who will be joining me next month for some thought-provoking videos. I’m looking forward to him teaching us where his optimism comes from.
The second part of that statement is: “Don’t sit this one out.” That would be the part about good men and women doing nothing. Don’t sit this one out. Get in there and do something that, even if in the smallest way, will make the world a better place. This actually goes hand-in-hand with not making it worse, because you won’t be sarcastic about something you are improving. It’s a cure for pessimism. Sarcasm comes from sitting it out. We’re all Monday morning quarterbacks because everyone’s got something to say about the game… but no one played in it. Get in the game, and make a difference, no matter how small.