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‘Evil Is Also Part of Me’

The Rt. Rev. Martin Field, Bishop of West Missouri, reflects on violence in Charlottesville and its aftermath:

The moment seemed to call me to stop and think. Do I need to react at all? If I posted or blogged or offered my tortured verbiage every time one of the ills of our society was put on display (as so graphically happened in Charlottesville), I would hardly ever get anything else done but writing comments. And that’s not all a bishop is elected to do. By a long shot. Besides, if I comment on everything, I’ll be the boy who cried wolf. No one will pay any attention, and I will have effectively drowned myself out by the volume of my own commenting.

… To resist evil, I must acknowledge that evil is also part of me. Resisting evil will not make me good. Whenever I resist evil, I stand the very real chance of falling into sin. I may become the mirror image of that which I resist. I think that happened in Charlotte. Clearly there was enough confrontation, enough in-your-face derision and contempt from both sides to set off what happened. Yes, a single fanatic drove the car into the crowd injuring many and killing a woman who, by all reports, was a concerned and caring person. But this was mob mentality. And there was a bit too much of it on all sides. So, repent we must. I must. For even though I wasn’t there, I cannot say I have had no part in racism’s persistence on this globe. My sins are surely sins of omission as well as commission. When I resist evil, I may fall into sin. I must keep that in mind lest I sanctify my hate, consecrate how I dehumanize another, or hallow my false assumption that I am superior because my beliefs are so much purer.

I am called to love Christ in all persons because each person I meet is Christ in disguise. Jesus made that clear, so I am called to love Christ in all persons. Not white ones or black ones or those of any other hue. All persons. I promised to do that. I’ve renewed that promise uncounted times. I’m supposed to mean it. Loving my neighbor as myself is hard because I don’t get to choose who my neighbor is. I have never had control of who enters my life — maybe over who continues in my life — but never over who enters. I have promised to love that person be she a stranger, newly met, or be he a beloved friend of long-standing. I have vowed to love my neighbor as myself even if he joins the White Nationalists, even if she rallies with Neo-Nazis, even if he puts on the bed-sheet hood of a KKKlansman. That person too is the Christ I am to seek and serve. Wow that’s hard.

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