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Believing in something vs. believing in nothing

Dorothy Sayers observes, “In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair… the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

The absence of passion in the face of evil explains why evil is so virulent in the world. Such a listless existence is no way for a good person to live. Winston Churchill said it best, “The malice of the wicked is reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.”

In terms of biblical theology, God’s ethos never occurs without pathos, as Heschel correctly observes. When the biblical prophets condemn injustice, they in turn mirror God’s own concern about societal evolution. Far from being a Deity that merely spends eternity reflecting upon His own Divine nature, the God of Scriptures incessantly demands ethical awareness and calls upon all of us to discover ultimate meaning by participation in the world’s redemption. In the Judaic consciousness, God’s role as Liberator is more important than His role as Creator. The One Who redeemed our ancestors, likewise expects us to emulate this role; paradoxically, the human hand resembles the Divine hand–not physically, but in terms of functionality.

Each person has a distinctive role to play and contribute toward this goal.  We cannot be good by simply avoiding evil; indifference toward human suffering only compounds it–whether we realize it or not. When a world stands begging for help, there can be only one ethical and spiritual response–Hineni–Here I am; I am ready to make a difference.

God expects all of us to embody the passion of liberation.



Discussion

  1. Yochanan Lavie  February 9, 2010

    I love this. I will copy it to my facebook.

    (reply)
  2. admin  February 9, 2010

    I will expand the above thread later on Tuesday, but there are some other good quotes on apathy that I like:

    “Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies” or “Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.”— Elie Wiesel

    “Desire is half of life; indifference is half of death.” — Kahlil Gibran

    “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” — Albert Einstein

    Of all the quotes cited, this one is my personal favorite:

    “The malice of the wicked is reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous” – Winston Churchill

    Whenever I read the newspapers about the Iranian ambition to possess the nuclear bomb, I wonder whether whether we as a civilization have learned anything from the mistakes of our misbegotten neutrality and collective indifference of the past.

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    Notes:

    Sayers’ comment reminds me a little bit of one of the great lines that often is incorrectly attributed to Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality,” however no such quote can be found in Dante’s Inferno. Actually, nobody really knows who originated this statement. But perhaps the most likely source for this quotation comes from Winston Churchill, who is purported to have said, ” The hottest part of hell is reserved for those, who at a time of grave moral crisis, steadfastly maintain their neutrality.”

    (reply)
  3. Yochanan Lavie  February 10, 2010

    An old joke:

    Q: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?
    A: I don’t know, and I don’t care!

    (reply)

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