The death of evil
24 October 2011, 10:58
I was boarding a plane to return home when I heard the news that Muammar Gaddafi had been killed. I felt like I was supposed to be happy. I mean, after all, another evil dictator had been destroyed. This is a good thing! The triumph of good over evil never gets old as a reason for great celebration!
When I got home and logged on to Facebook and caught up on the news stories I had missed the past few days it was unmistakable that the whole world seemed exuberant at the death of this man. One friend of my Facebook feed even said, “Saddam, Bin Laden, Gaddafi...Who’s next?” Indeed there were a few predictable replies and I could easily conjure up a handful of people whom I think should be next - some quite close to home too!
But as I reflected a bit more on the magnitude of the demise of Africa’s longest serving leader, I realised that this has indeed been an extraordinary year. All across the Middle East and parts of Africa, oppressive, dictatorial and all-round bad guys have been unceremoniously dethroned. Each time the world rejoiced with the citizens of the respective nation praising them for their valour. Phrases like “regime change”, “dawn of a new era”, “promotion of democracy”, “destruction of evil” and many others are often used in the related and subsequent news stories.
The question rings about though: “Who’s next?”
I would like to ask a bold question and I know I run the risk of sounding fundamentalist here, but I’m going to ask it anyway and kindly request that you don’t hear what I’m not saying. So here goes:
“What is easier for you to imagine: The death of an evil dictator, or his salvation?”
Let me expound on this a bit: would you find it easier to pray for the president of Zimbabwe to be removed (whatever that may mean) or for the president of Zimbabwe to have a changed heart?
I ask this because the more I consider this question together with the “who’s next” dilemma, the more I am beginning to realise that evil is not defeated by the death of evil people. Just within the past century we’ve been shocked to the core by the depth to which mankind can go when it comes to acts of evil. Just as we think we’ve defeated the worst kind of evil, somewhere else on the globe a new malevolence shows it head and leaves us shell-shocked once more.
The world rejoiced earlier this year when news broke that a man perceived the world over as the most evil of them all was killed and thrown in to the sea. We soon forgot about Bin Laden and attention focused on the new evil - Gaddafi. I wonder who will be public enemy number one tomorrow.
No, evil is not destroyed by destroying evil people.
I would rather venture a guess and say evil is destroyed by the promotion of good. Yes, evil must be challenged - corruption, fraud, and maladministration, acts of war on defenceless people and gross violation of human rights - all these things cannot and should never be allowed to continue without being confronted! But while the agenda of evil is being fought against, the agenda of good cannot be neglected!
The world is very, very good at declaring the things it hates, but we’ve become very bad at declaring the things we love like, good, clean government, leaders who actually, genuinely love and look after the people they lead, and people who feel likewise about their leaders. Then of courses there are those wonderful things like accountability, honesty and integrity.
It runs in all of our veins to rise up and fight against oppression and evil - it almost comes naturally.
I would ask - pleading - allow the call to go a little deeper. Do more than just speak out against evil - stand up and be a promoter of good! We have just had local government elections and the fundamental heart of local government is community involvement. Be a good leader within your community. Stand up for what is good, and who knows, by changing your community, you could change the world!
And if you’re still looking for “who’s next”, then may I humbly suggest that you rather look back to when one man did actually die and believe it or not, evil was actually defeated. The only difference is that that was a Good Man and his death really did have a sustainable global impact.
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