People are angry about the recent violence in Charlottesville, VA. They need someone to blame, and many of them are pointing fingers at President Trump. As much as I would like to point my accusing finger at President Obama, I realize how equally wrong that would be. These are individuals. They are not that powerful by themselves. The direction our nation is taking is a group effort. Shall I accuse an entire political party? Both political parties? I think there is a much simpler answer, at least in defining the issue. This is a battle of good versus evil.
Evil, aka the devil, is an interesting creature. He tells us what we want to hear, hoping we won’t notice where he is leading us. These deceptions can be large or small. For example, during my younger years, I began smoking. I didn’t want to tell my parents, because I knew they were totally against the nasty habit. One day, my mother asked me if I had ever tried smoking cigarettes. I said, yes. Then she asked me if I liked it. I said that I had not. After all, who likes their first cigarette. Basically, I played the part of the devil. I told her what she wanted to hear and no more.
She was so relieved that I knew I would need to hide my habit forever. This would require more deception, like the time I burned a hole in the seat of their car, and had to come up with a story as to how it had happened. I think this is about the time that guilt and anxiety began to build up. I knew I had to come clean, but my mother’s words kept ringing in my ears. When I had said that I didn’t like the cigarette, she replied, “Oh, good,” with a sigh of relief, “you don’t know what it would do to me if you ever walked in the house with a cigarette in your hand.” I was totally miserable. I loved my mother and didn’t want to lie to her, and I didn’t want to hurt her by telling her that I smoked. Through deception, I had created a no win situation for myself.
So, what do cigarettes have to do with rioting protesters? It has to do with motivation. I was motivated to smoke, even though it was bad for my health, it cost money I had little of and it went against my parent’s wishes. In today’s terms, I was offended that they didn’t want me to smoke, so I smoked anyway. The Charlottesville disaster began the same way.
For reasons I don’t understand, people began being offended by statues, like the one of Robert E. Lee, after the senseless deaths of nine black people in Charleston, South Carolina. A crazy person killed nine people. He was a white supremacist; therefore, the statues are offensive and they have to go. That is like saying: I smoked cigarettes against my parent’s wishes. They knew I probably used matches to light them, so, they became offended anytime they saw matches and threw them all out. The conclusion is illogical. Nevertheless, this is the conclusion we have to work with.
Some people were offended. They asked the city council to take the statue down. The city council, rather than preserve a visible reminder of our history, told the offended what they wanted to hear. Because the city council agreed to take the statue down, opposing groups decided to protest. Next the protesters taunted and threatened each other like middle school bullies. Fights broke out. People were injured. No one noticed where evil was going until a crazy person drove a car into the melee, injuring many people and killing a woman.
Perhaps we are growing more offended (intolerant) because we can’t admit that we feel helpless. We need a deception, like taking a stand against the existence of a statue, to give us the false sense that we have done something to make things better. Just as throwing out all the matches in a house will do nothing to stop me from smoking. The Charlottesville protest clearly shows us that this approach didn’t work. I wonder if we have the courage to discover and abandon our deceptions. Only then can we fight the battle of good versus evil instead of each other.