“All evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke’s words have echoed over time and stirred many people’s creative imaginations as they contemplate their meaning and significance. Perhaps most remembered in my mind is when Winston Churchill quoted him in a speech while addressing Britain’s call to arms in World War II.
War has always been a word synonymous of destruction, pain, grief, and death. As a child I can remember participating in Remembrance Day Celebrations as we would reflect at the horrors of World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Heart felt connection seemed evidenced in the faces of the elderly around me as they reminisced of family and friends who endured horrific times, events, and loss. Yet for me as a young child, war and the remembrance of such events seemed at a distance and the emotions were more of a spirit in complaisance then they were of relational relevance.
How can I place value on the men and women who died and served in these wars as strangers to my life? What significance of their involvements really mattered in my young years? Why remember such tragic and evil times when I live in such a time free from the antipathy of war?
Times have changed as I have grown up and no longer do I live with an indulgence to believe in a world free from war. Perhaps more inline with the thoughts of Burke; no longer do I live in the delusion of a world free from evil.
Yes, evil has gripped our little blue planet once again with wars starting and ending in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Terror has gripped the hearts of nations contemplating destruction and annihilation such as the countries of Iran, Israel, Palestine, and North Korea. Crimes of injustice and horrors have taken place in countries such as South Africa and Somalia. Tides which are so close that I cease to forget.
In the reality of this waking call I realize, it is not just the seasoned soldier who serves his country which has paid so much and lost to such causes. It is women and children, families, missionaries, civilians, and in short; the commonwealth of humanity. These are people who no longer could just sit and do nothing but instead stood up in the belief of a humanity which is created in a spirit of Freedom, Justice, and Equity for all. These are people who could no longer lay still in a self loathing value of apathy but instead became activists for a Kingdom far larger than just national conception.
Apathy becomes the enemy of human identity and our call to remember those who stood and continue to stand for a Kingdom of truth, freedom, and equality. In the words of Henri Frederic Amiel, “Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.” We were meant to “hunger and thirst for righteousness“; be “merciful that we might find mercy“; and be “peacemakers” in a world which needs a spirit of peace in place of a demon named terror. But, if we are to do this we must not only remember those who have done so in past but embody their passions and take action ourselves.
Tonight I sit at the table with my family and share a prayer of remembrance. I remember those who have served God’s Kingdom, embodied the Spirit of action which Christ lived, and I remember the sacrifices each made. Tonight I give thanks breaking bread and remember while sharing; evil has not succeeded, the cross has eternally triumphed, the Holy Spirit has claimed victory, and the Kingdom of God is near.
“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.” – Luke 22:14-23