From the Shadows Walks the Enemy

The evil is among us. It bides its time in shadow. It feeds, trades in subtleties, plays in encoded rhetoric, and waits for a moment to stride into the light. It hopes to command the day, hoping to have won enough to its sympathies through years of slow-burning lies and nudged hatred. It wields those tools, hoping they will work like water dripping through a cave hollows out some spaces and leaves deposits of minerals hanging from the ceiling and piled up on the floor. It uses small sufferings and inflates them, wishing to lead unsuspecting fools to see other people through the shadows of their own pain, and learn to see them as the source of blame.

Evil wants to turn the volume up on the anger of the self, on the arrogances of desire and rage. It seeks to drown out the cries of any other by a misguided sense of justice, by pettiness and by stringing together loose ideas that can only be connected by a will for the self.

When it comes into the light, some people will be repulsed by it, seeing it for the gross distortion it is. Others will feel themselves drawn to it, as by gravity, for they have been formed and groomed for the moment by ingesting a lot of poison, unconsciously. Others will see it and be perplexed, desperately looking for ways to see the turmoil as not all that much to be worried about.

The evil that was on display on Charlottesville this past weekend was not unique or new. It’s been here. It chose this particular moment to step into the light. It will claim its victims, do its harm, gather its sympathizers, then likely retreat again. It will hide, and seek to build its strength again for the next assault. The people who are the face of the darkest powers in this moment may not understand this strategy, and indeed many are emboldened to think that they are now coming into the light for good. I think they radically overestimate their hand, and that they will be forced to retreat again for a while, but I also believe it is very dangerous to underestimate both their capacity for harm and the evil that underlies it.

When evil comes into the light, it matters greatly how people respond to it. But it also matters immensely what we do when it retreats and hides. It matters greatly how we feed and nourish ourselves in the moments of relative peace. For how we are formed in those “meanwhiles” determines how we respond in the next moment of crisis.