“There’s a word for what happens when one group of people sees another as less than human and insists on its right to hurt and humiliate them for fun. It’s an everyday word that is often misused to refer to something outside of ourselves. The word is ‘evil’.” Laurie Penny
I was a block away when I saw the crowd of teenagers. There were at least 20 of them on the corner of a city street. I hated going home this time of day. Packs of city teens traveled the subway together and reflected all the insensitivity and crowd mentality normal to that age, and unbearable to those looking on.
My heart beat faster seeing them. They were surrounding someone, something. Taunting, laughing, not a flicker of emotional IQ showed. I suddenly realized they were surrounding the disabled man who usually lay, prone, in a motorized wheelchair in a spot where on sunny days the sun would shine, a spot where he wouldn’t be too cold.
The wheelchair was tipped over and he was on the ground. On the ground surrounded by teens, being taunted and mocked. Because he couldn’t fight back. He was an easy target.
He was a nothing to them, good as dead, a piece of skin and bones that could be pushed around, shoved to the ground. He had so little dignity to begin with that it was easy to rob him of the rest. Rob him of the honor of what it means to be ‘made in the God’s image”. The words ‘Made in the image of God’ were not something this group understood.
I breathed hot rage and started to run-walk to the scene. At just that time, police officers showed up and began dispersing the crowd and helping the man. The teens muttered profanities and walked off – looking for their next victim.
Had I been closer would I have had the courage to call them out? To call out their behavior for what it was? Evil in its dismissal of humanity? Evil in its demonstration of superiority and cruelty? Would I have faced 20 or more teens, most taller (and arguably stronger) than me?
Do I have the courage to call out evil? To call evil for what it is? No excuses? No “well … those who did this come from bad backgrounds”. No “they’re just being kids!” No “I’m sure they didn’t mean harm by what they did! They just didn’t think!”
None of that – just plain calling out cruelty and evil. Using words that are politically incorrect in a society that justifies all sorts of bad behavior. Calling out behavior that dismisses others as ‘less-than’, strips them of their agency, and attempts to dismiss the image of God within.
On Tuesday I read an article that had the courage to call out Evil. On Wednesday I read another article; another essay that called on courage, called out evil.
The women behind these article couldn’t be more different – but both used their voices and called out ‘evil’.
In ancient days prophets had the courage to speak truth and call out evil – and they paid, sometimes dearly. The Prophet Isaiah had harsh words for people who dismissed or failed to recognize evil: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
And this was and is a picture of redemption – to see and hear evil called out in a world that dismisses and justifies, to read past accounts of courage to confront evil — to know there are those still willing to call it out today, reflects a Good God – a God that redeems, a God that cannot tolerate evil.
A God that loves his creation too much to let them wallow without consequences in a pig sty. Could it be when we call out Evil, we call up Good?
But the question remains: Do I have the courage to call out evil?