For the ioLanche voters guide, please consider what WWII spy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said in one of his letters from a Nazi prison. I’ll break up what he wrote into sections.
Who Stands his ground?
The great masquerade of evil has wrought havoc. With all our ethical preconceptions, this appearance of evil masquerading in the guise of light, good deeds, historical necessity, social justice, is absolutely bewildering to our ethical concepts. But for the Christian who frames his life on the Bible, it simply confirms of the radical evilness of evil.
The failure of rationalism is evident. With the best of intentions but a naive lack of realism, they think that a bit of reason will be enough to fix the world and put it right. Short sighted, they want to do justice on every side. But in the fight, they get trampled without having any effect at all. Disappointed by the irrationality of the world, they see their own futility and withdraw in resignation and surrender to the winning side.
Worst is the failure of moral fanaticism. The fanatic imagines that the power of his moral purity will overcome evil. But like a bull, he attacks the red Muleta rather than the person waving the cape that conceals the sword. He gets entangled in the distractions and ends up in the trap set by his cunning adversary.
Then there is the man of conscience, he fights single-handedly against overwhelming odds. With no other wisdom or support to determine the best course, his conscience is torn apart. He is surrounded by evil in its multitude of seductive disguises making him fearful and unsure. In the end he settles for a compromised conscience instead of a clear conscience. He lies to himself in order to avoid dispair. Relying on his deluded conscience he fails to see the difference, that a guilty conscience is better than adeluded one.
Duty and Honor
With so many ways to live your life, some choose the path of duty as a certainty. Elevating duty higher than responsibility, the responsibility always falls to someone else. However, such men acting only from duty don’t act on their own accord, which is the only way to overcome evil. The man of duty will, in the end, be forced to violate his own conscience and even take orders from the devil out of the duty he upholds.
Then there is the man of freedom. He is the man who values the necessary deed or the duty of his office more highly than a clear conscience. He is prepared to sacrifice a barren principle for a fruitful compromise or a barren wisdom of mediocrity to fruitful radicalism. He must be careful less his freedom become is or undoing. For in siding with the lesser of two evil’s he may condone a great evil having played his part in a tragedy.
Some simply avoid the issues and decisions of the day and seek solace in their own private virtue. They close their eyes and hide behind walls and guarded busyness. But they must deceive themselves, close their eyes and do nothing about the injustice around them to remain undefiled by the consequences of responsible action. With all they achieve that which they fail to do will haunt their conscience. They will either perish from that restlessness or turn into self-righteous, hypocrites.
Who stands his ground? Only those whose ultimate goal is not merely their own reason, principles, conscience, duty, freedom, or virtue; only the person who is prepared to sacrifice all of these things when, in faith and in relationship to God alone, he is called to obedient and responsible action. Such a person is the responsible one,whose life is to be a response to Gods question and His call. Where are these responsible people?
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works). Vol. 8. Pg. 38. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010. Print (Amazon).
Bonhoeffer gives us much to think about. I see myself and my missteps as I consider Bonhoeffer’s warnings. Read this again as you consider voting in the upcoming election in the country you are in and let me know if you see yourself.