DYCHE | We must each do our part during these dark days - WDRB 41 Louisville News

DYCHE | We must each do our part during these dark days

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By John David Dyche
WDRB Contributor

The days are growing darker, and not merely due to cold winter’s coming. Sometimes it all just seems too much to bear. 

The news reports another mass shooting; terrorist attack; beheading; war; shooting by, or of, police; child abused or killed; wave of refugees; economic stagnation; staggering debt and unfunded liabilities; racial confrontation; cultural depravity; demagogue; corrupt or cowardly institution; drug-related death; and so on.

As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, despite the best efforts of religion, politics, and well-meaning people, each sometimes unintentionally making matters worse instead of better. 

We just finished giving thanks for our blessings. And there is, of course, a lot of beauty, compassion, courage, faith, goodness, hope, joy, kindness, love, philosophy and wisdom in the world.

But sometimes the bad appears to be overwhelming the good. This is one of those times. 

It is different in important respects from those that have gone before. Authorities, institutions, values, virtues, and social structures that helped us cope, overcome, and ultimately triumph in the past have eroded. 

Social media instantly sends and sears the very worst news from everywhere immediately into our homes, lives, and souls.  That makes the bad seems more prevalent than ever before even though evil has been around since Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel.  

Technology can be a blessing, but also a curse, and change is not necessarily progress. Bad people have become expert at making barbaric use of modern things.

Conflicts of the past we thought were over are not only still alive, but are more bitter than before despite the passage of time sometimes measured in centuries, or even millennia. Some of us forgot what Faulkner taught: “The past is never dead.  It's not even past.”

What are we to do?  Ignoring harsh reality is not an option.  Blissful ignorance is an illusion and impossible to actually achieve.  It would not make things better anyway.

How about passivity? Matthew 5:39 attributes to Jesus the following saying: “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” 

This is difficult to do in practice and almost impossible when the principle is projected beyond a mere slap on the cheek. Even those strong, blessed characters that might be capable of it face a formidable task when others, including especially our children, or our entire society, are at risk. 

Thus, another very wise man, Edmund Burke, is supposed to have said:  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

Then we must act, but how? What forms should a fight against evil in its myriad manifestations take?  Is violence, whether on a personal basis or through war, an appropriate response? 

Though it may go against our professed religious beliefs, and despite the fact that it often produces only more violence, force is sometimes required to smite immediate foes, save lives, and solve serious problems on at least a short-term basis. 

Yet not all the problems that threaten to overwhelm are of the sort that can be conquered by force. As to them we must muster the resolve to fight on multiple fronts, in various ways. 

This frequently means quarreling with each other, if not worse.  We must take great care not to confuse our actual enemies and our friends with whom we disagree. 

Waging such struggles through religion and politics sometimes divides and weakens us further.  And while individual action outside those systems can accomplish some truly great and sometimes lifesaving, and even world-changing things, it is not enough given the magnitude of the multi-faceted challenges we face.

Occasional despair is understandable, even if not forgivable. But we must, each individually and all together, resist the temptation to succumb to it.  Again, Faulkner, speaking in perilous Cold War times, offered hope.

“I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”  

Faulkner also believed the writer had an important responsibility. 

“It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.  The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

Some of us poor scribblers are obviously not up to such a serious, somber task. Still, particularly when the whole world from one’s doorstep to the most distant point is a scary place, it is necessary to try.

In times like these even the most humbly endowed among us should contemplate how we can best help community, country, and indeed humanity respond to some of the most daunting challenges ever.  We must each do our part, and our best, to bring about brighter days ahead.

(John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is jddyche@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.)

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