The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothingEdmund Burke
That is the short version attributed to Edmund Burke. It is actually derived from a longer work titled Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770).
Defining Good and Evil …
As old fashioned as it might seem, I do believe in good and evil. And I strongly agree with Edmund Burke that for evil to triumph, all that is needed is for good men to sit by and do nothing.
And I certainly understand that the world we live in is not always so black and white. No, I am not racist; I am merely using an analogy that far predates the politically charged various versions of racism we must try to sort through today.
There is a great deal of gray in the world. However, social order and civilization are dependent on defining what lawful and unlawful behavior is. And, some actions are almost unanimously deemed as reprehensible (or evil). These, even in today’s upside-down world, would typically include stealing, murder, rape, slavery, human trafficking, genocide, etc.
Complete pacifism only leads to one of two possible places …
What are those two places? Simply stated, they are slavery or extinction.
You might argue that it is a bit extreme. I argue it is not. History is chock-full of examples supporting this concept, going back thousands of years. And, those who fail to study history are far too often doomed to repeat it.
I have thirty-five plus years of martial arts training. I served in the U.S. military and graduated from the best private bodyguard training school in the United States. I understand what really evil people can do, and refusing to stand up to them typically does not stop them.
I am reminded of a dinner party I was at many years ago. One of the guests was a local radio station disc jockey, and I soon discovered, an avowed pacifist. He asked me how I could justify owning guns and also teaching people how to beat up other people. I simply answered that I do not teach people how to hurt other people. I teach people how to stop people from hurting them or people they care about.
He scoffed at that. So I gave him a scenario (we had just recently had our first home invasion in Anderson County in the news, where an elderly couple was tied to chairs, brutally beaten, and robbed). I asked him if he were home at night with his wife and three young children, and violent people invaded his home with the intent to harm his family, would he just step out of the way because he “did not believe in violence,” or would he try to protect his family?
He thought about that for a minute, then answered that he would have to try to protect them. I then told him that the only real difference between him and me was that I would have much a better chance of succeeding. His final comment was something like, “Wow, you’ve cut me to the quick on that. I have to think about that.”
Sometimes, good people must do bad things to stop evil people!
Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses. Think…of a piano. It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the ‘right’ notes and the ‘wrong’ ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
It is in this quote that we can see the defense for my comment above. The difference for me is in the character of the person and the reason for the act. Yes, good people can sometimes be called on to do bad things to protect those they care about. But they do it out of necessity, not for fun, personal gain, or on a whim. And therefore, they are willing to stand before God and be judged for their deeds.
This is the reference JD makes near the end of Montagnard. It is also how, in real life, a Navy SEAL like Chris Kyle or Rob O’Neil, or any soldier, sailor, airmen, or marine, would be able to justify to themselves what they do and sleep at night.
Evil does exist in this world. Often, it cannot be reasoned with, appeased, or avoided. Sometimes, it must be faced down. There have been a few instances in my life where I made the choice to stand against evil. I do not regret those decisions and I do not believe God will hold them against me when my time comes.
My stories, at their core, are about facing down that evil.
The third installment in the JD Cordell Action Series I am calling Reciprocity, will delve into the dark world of human trafficking, which I think any sound-minded individual would consider an evil blight on humanity.
If you enjoyed this little philosophical meandering, please take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!
And, if you like reading an award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my award-winning novel, Montagnard.