Editorial — The triumph over evil

While standing in line at a local hardware store recently, two men were discussing the state of the world and nation.

It’s never been worse, one said, as the other nodded his head in agreement. But perhaps they are wrong. Perhaps, as bad as things appear to be, they may have been worse in the past.

Consider this:

In his remarkable book 1942, historian Winston Groom wrote of World War II that “it was the most dangerous and deadly conflict ever inflicted on the planet. At stake was the fate of the world. If the world had been lost to the Axis powers, modern civilization would have fallen under the sway of cruel tyrants and the world perhaps subjected to another 40 generations of darkness, as it was after the Barbarians conquered the Roman Empire. No nation was safe from the evils, whether
it chose to be neutral or not; it was spreading like a cancer across the world.”

There are those today who see violence and wrong on the march again. Members of the Islamic State, or ISIS as some news outlets call it, have been gobbling up large portions of Iraq, beheading people as they go. And the United States Secretary of Defense, in defending recent U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State fighters, said the world has never seen the likes of this evil.

“They are beyond just a terrorist group,” Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters in Washington, D.C., last week. “They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess.

“This is beyond anything we have seen and we must prepare for everything,” he continued. “And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely and hard look at it and get ready.”

It was perhaps hyperbole, but in the horrific video of the beheading of journalist James Foley, the barbarian who wielded the sword gazed into the camera and said, “See you in New York.”

As has happened in the past, good people — including religious leaders the world over — have recognized the danger this latest threat poses.

Our own Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stepped to the forefront last week and asked bishops across the nation to take up a special collection for humanitarian aid and pastoral support for Christians and other victims of the violence in the Middle East.

Amid the ongoing crisis in what he told the Catholic News Service (CNS) is “the cradle of Christianity,” Archbishop Kurtz said the church “mourns the terrible suffering of Christians and other innocent victims of violence in Iraq, Syria and Gaza who are struggling to survive, to protect their children and live with dignity in dire conditions.”

The archbishop emphasized, as Sec. Hagel had, “the extraordinary nature of this crisis” and urged bishops to have parishes in their dioceses hold collections on the weekends of Sept. 6 and 7 or Sept. 13 and 14, CNS said. “Our Christian brothers and sisters and other innocent victims of the violence in the Middle East urgently need the assistance of the Catholic community of the United States,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

The threat of the Islamic State, now limited to the Middle East, is nevertheless dramatically real for the world. In many instances, ISIS fighters have invaded a town and demanded that the residents convert to Islam. Many have, only to be beheaded anyway. Those who have avoided the sword have faced a life devoid of food and water; women kidnapped by Islamic State fighters have been bought, sold and abused in ways beyond imagination, a story on CNN said last week.

Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni, who discussed the Middle East situation with Pope Francis last week, said in the CNN story that the pope was upset by the cardinal’s descriptions of the terror being wrought by the Islamic State. The cardinal told Pope Francis he was able to meet with the displaced Christians on the lawns of churches, inside church buildings and schools, and in the camps where they have received initial assistance.

“You have to realize,” he told both the pope and the news agency, that “this is the warmest period of the year when temperatures regularly exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. So shade and water are extremely important. The most vivid images that will stay with me are those of people who have lost everything,” he said, yet those same people “count themselves lucky if no one in their immediate family was killed” by the Islamic State forces.

What’s happening in the Middle East is by no means the only essence of evil bedeviling the world today. There is the Russian invasion of the Ukraine; the on-going civil fighting in Syria; the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa; the shooting and resulting civil unrest in Missouri. There are enough problems in the world to make pessimists of us all. But we’ve been down this road before, as Winston Groom noted. We’ve faced down evil with the guidance of God and the leadership of good men.

Together we can prove once again that good will always triumph over evil — God will see to that.

Glenn Rutherford
Record Editor

Glenn Rutherford
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Glenn Rutherford
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