"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
Passivity is an ally of evil. It flows out of an attitude of apathy and produces a non-response to life’s challenges. Passivity can be a subtle thing. Since we’re not doing evil ourselves we feel we have fulfilled our responsibility. Let’s dispel this lie by considering the man standing on the balcony of his condominium witnessing a woman being assaulted in the courtyard below and does nothing about it. Can he claim he has done no wrong? While its true he didn’t commit the sin of assaulting the woman he did sin against her when he did nothing in response to the evil done to her.
If we look deeper we find that such apathy and passivity finds its root in fear. In John 12 we read that among the religious rulers, “many believed in (Jesus) but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him” (John 12:42). They feared they would be put out of the synagogue if they openly confessed Christ as the Messiah of Israel. Their fear led them to say nothing. Often our fears leave us speechless when opportunities for witnessing for Christ come our way. At such times our passivity become an ally of evil.
Fear and anxiety can numb our “response muscle” and cause us to freeze when we are confronted with evil. We fear that our response to evil will bring unpleasant repercussions into our lives. Sometimes we fear we will fail or do the wrong thing so...we do nothing. At other times we seek the safe route of neutrality rather than standing against evil.
God holds us responsible for our response to evil and injustice. God’s heart is that we not only avoid doing evil against others but that we also seek to relieve those who are the victims of evil.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17
Those who are victims of injustice need an advocate. If we remain silent and do nothing we are just as culpable as the one who perpetrated the evil.
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this world of evil we are called to be advocates for justice and righteousness. When we desire safety, ease and comfort more than righteousness and justice we have succumb to the curse of passivity.
Isaiah the prophet cried out, “No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth” (Isaiah 59:4). May this not be said of us and our generation. In big things...small things...all things let us ask God for the compassion to care for the victims of evil and for the courage to do whatever is needed to stand against evil in all its forms. Lord, deliver us from the curse of passivity!