“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:37; Luke 9:25)
Have you noticed an increase in the use of the term “evil”? I have.
Of course, the atrocities committed by ISIS and posted on YouTube are labelled “evil.”
What got me thinking about our selective use of this word was when I heard the term “evil enterprises” used in the dominant media to label ISIS business dealings.
If their business dealings are “evil” because the income generated supports murderous regimes spewing hatred and intolerance while generating wars and refugees, what about some of “ours”?
Granted, ours are not cutting off people’s heads and posting it on YouTube.
Actually their behaviour is quite the opposite . . . the YouTube part.
In spewing intolerance, killing, maiming and generating refugees, the practices of some corporations registered and active in Canada as well as the millionaires/billionaires who benefit from them far surpass that of ISIS — as nasty as ISIS is.
Yet I have never heard them labelled “evil.”
Where they are different to ISIS is they do not post their activities on YouTube. Rather, they do everything in their power to conceal, confuse or misrepresent what they are doing and how that negatively impacts local families and communities while damaging the common good of God’s creation.
This inhibits our exercising the “free will” given to us by our Divine Beloved — with instructions to use it to be “soul-menders” both for ourselves as well as our battered world.
Did you know that if we constructively engage to ensure all God’s creation has life with dignity, we could not only have higher quality, happier, more purposeful lives while delighting and glorifying our Divine Beloved?
Sounds like a win/win to me. So why are we not doing it? And why are we not labelling those who intentionally prevent us from doing it “evil”?
Thanks to anthropological, sociological and psychological research, we know it is not due to our “human nature” as we were told for generations.
Turns out it is because of how we understand our Divine, ourselves, our power and how to effectively use it to contribute to the co-creation of “right relationships” in our worlds.
Whoever has the power to shape or influence that understanding has great “power over” us.
This Lent, I attended the Anglican parish down the road from mine for a set of presentations called St. Francis and Pope Francis.
In his introduction, the Anglican pastor reminded us that in the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent (Luke 4:1 - 13), all the temptations of Jesus involved “power over” relationships that led to self-enrichment.
He contrasted this with what Pope Francis is calling us to in Laudato Si’ and by example. That is, to have “power with” relationships for the common good.
I reflected on the contrast . . . and thought of the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are the fifth and sixth richest people in the world.
I have mentioned them in previous columns with respect to their ownership of Alberta’s tarsands and our previous ruling party gutting our environmental protection legislation.
I also mentioned them with respect to their manipulation of our understanding of “pro-life” as being only about “anti-choice” legislation, then using that to drive wedges between groups who would otherwise work together to enable real cultures of life where all have dignity.
In Dark Money (2016) American investigative journalist Jane Meyer once again shines light on the Koch networks.
In a well-documented exposé, she outlines how these two men and friends socially engineered a transformation of not only our understanding of God, ourselves, our power and how to effectively use it — but of our global social structures.
It is from these social structures that accelerating inequality and environmental devastation flow, with climate chaos but one symptom already killing millions while forcing more to flee.
This was not done in the “open, free market of ideas.” Whenever they tried that, they were rejected. They used stealth.
According to Meyers, Koch’s et al did not restrict themselves to making massive contributions to parties of their choice or lobbying governments to pass legislation that benefits them while destroying — literally — the common good and a government’s capacity to act in the common good.
They funnelled vast resources through various third party institutes that have “charity” status. This is done because charities donors’ lists, unlike lobbying and donations to politicians are not made public.
That means you and I are more inclined to believe or consider what these “independent” institutions publish. And thus we careen toward probable self-destruction.
Surely such enterprises are at least as worthy as ISIS of the label “evil,” don’t you think?
An educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.