The Virtue of Simplicity

For the past couple days, I’ve been thinking about all of the corruption in the world. No matter how hard we work to make things better, it’s like we’re in this nuclear arms race against evil, where evil keeps building better mousetraps.

For example, I read this incredibly heart-rending peace against racism in the National Catholic Reporter.

After a few seconds, I thought – so many of us are against racism. How many of us are willing to think about the mousetraps evil has built – like our incredibly racist criminal justice system, especially our prisons? How many of us are willing to say healthcare should be a basic right?

Evil can quickly build a more attractive platform, because lies are easier than facts. It’s much easier to worship one fascist dictator than it is to rally around a hundred different equally legitimate causes.

All of this reminds of a phrase from Revelation “the so-called deep things of Satan”(Revelation 2:24).

I want to be very careful when I say this, because demonizing people is never cool. But think if we could somehow stop being distracted by the ridiculous fictions of the “other side” and think about the fact that – actually – we’re not all that different, we might get somewhere here.

Forget the ridiculous lies. Forget the “deep things” and conspiracy theories and outright idolatry of flawed leaders. It’s stupid. Let it go.

Black Lives Matter. (Because all lives matter, but because right now we kind of need to say it, that….) Black Lives Matter. If we could just say that with the same conviction as we say things like Never Again, then maybe we could start to appreciate true wisdom: that what happens to one of us actually affects all of us.

Racism murders our souls.

It seems to me like we – the basically decent people – are so divided in large part because we know the right thing to do. We just don’t want to do it. Deep down, we all know that healthcare should be a fundamental human right, that there’s something deeply wrong with making healthcare a for-profit industry. It’s the same with the prison system. There’s so much power and money invested in it that it’s hard to imagine life without an insane number of people behind bars, many of them black, many of them in prison for offenses that would be ignored or laughed off if they had paler skin and/or lived in “better” neighborhoods.

Don’t be distracted by the light show, by all of the hundred reasons that somehow make it logically okay to say at the same exact moment 1) racism is wrong and 2) but we need to make these changes slowly.

You know who would have never stood for that kind of excuse? Martin Luther King Jr. Read him sometime. He understood – as we must continue to understand – that we need to fight racism at the most fundamental level Right Now – not tomorrow – not when we feel like it. Without changing the systems that support racism, we can think nice thoughts all we want, but nothing will ever change. In fact, it’s going to get worse.

That’s why MLK spent so much time on what a war-time president saw as a minor issue: that of voter’s rights.

Look around. Dying makes it harder to vote. Being in prison makes it harder to vote. Being unable to leave your house and being too busy trying to put your life together makes it harder to vote. Not being allowed to vote safely and legally by mail makes it harder to vote, especially if you live in a hard-hit area.

I’m honestly not sure what to say at this point. I’m kind of at a loss. I love this country so much, but like so many people, I kind of have my hands up in the air, thinking – are we even being serious right now? So many of us are saying we care, but then why are we unable to turn and face the monster we’re allowing to live on, unchallenged in our own back yard? I don’t get it. Do any of us honestly believe that nice words and good feelings are going to change the system – unless we actually change the system?

With many prayers for the U.S. and around the world, because I know we’re not the only ones with this problem. Frankly, it’s a sin problem. My prayer daily is for divine intervention to help us, to reach into our hearts, to fill us with courage and to help us to help ourselves.


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