Presumption, Slippery Slopes and Today’s Inaguration

Presumption, Slippery Slopes and Today’s Inaguration January 20, 2017

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I have two notes for my readers, ahead of this nightmare inauguration.

First of all, there is a photo circulating the internet; it was shared, when I saw it, by someone named Kelly Devlin but I don’t know if she took the photo. I can’t share it here because I don’t know who took it or who holds the copyright. It isn’t a fake photo, but I want to caution my readers that it it’s not what it looks like. The photo appears to show the Ku Klux Klan in their white hoods and robes arriving in Washington DC for the inauguration. However, two of my friends who are in Washington for the Women’s March against Donald Trump have told me that they saw the group in the photo, and they are actually anti-Trump protesters wearing KKK costumes with Trump masks and little Hitler mustaches. So, that photo is not actually of the Ku Klux Klan in Washington publicly supporting the president-elect, and I pray we never again live in an era where there is legitimate question about that matter. God help us.

This is a good real life example of people seeing what they want to see, of our tendency to cherry-pick details from the news to support they expect. All of us, myself included, are guilty of cherry-picking like this from time to time– I assumed it was the real Klan myself– and we all need to guard against it.

Secondly, and most importantly: how did we get here?

How is this happening?

I have more than one friend so perplexed, they’re joking about alternate universes.

How did we get to this point?

There are a lot of societal factors that brought us here, but I need to talk about just one.

Most everyone has heard that the greatest trick the devil ever played, was convincing people he didn’t exist. I don’t think that’s the case; I think he’s done something far worse. He’s convinced us that one evil can be a tolerable or even a good thing, if we can point to something out there that is or looks worse. That we don’t dare think about a myriad of extremely weighty matters, when there’s something out there that weighs a little more.

We’ve bought the lie that, rather than focusing on the works of mercy and the struggle for a just society, we ought to tunnel our vision onto one or the other pet sin, however grave, and fight against it with all of our strength. That kind of life leaves no room for virtue, only blind outrage, and blind outrage does not make men and women just. Blind outrage makes us into a mob.

I saw that kind of thinking on display just the other day. I was walking on one of the blocks in my neighborhood where the very conservative Catholics live, and I saw a parked car with several bumper stickers. Many of them were to do with the Rosary, but there was one that said “I’ll start caring about the environment when environmentalists start saving babies.”

I wanted to knock at that person’s door and scream at them. That is not virtue; that is not the life we’re called to as Catholics. We have to care about the environment, poverty, racism, violence against women and every other social injustice, while at the same time never giving up the fight to save babies. We have to care about everyone, and we have to work for everyone’s good– not against one particularly grisly evil, but for everyone’s good.

Instead, the devil has convinced this Catholic and many like them that we have to ignore or even celebrate certain injustices, while we fight against this one. And we fight against it without context, without understanding, committing any number of sins and scandals along the way, because we focus on that evil instead of on justice and the works of mercy.

I’ve heard of Catholics who said they cried for days after voting; they hated Trump that much, but they honestly felt morally obligated to vote for him. They were spiritually abused into that sense of obligation by liars who claimed anything else was a sin.

And where have we ended up? We’ve ended up with a racist, narcissistic sexual predator who gave lip service to overturning Roe versus Wade, about to take the oath of office and lead our country God knows where. He didn’t come out of nowhere; he’s the rock bottom of a slippery slope that starts with believing that only one issue, isolated from all the others, deserves our whole focus. That rather than demanding justice, we should tolerate a thousand injustices for a vain hope at stopping just one.

I pray that it’ll all turn out for the best, but we haven’t gotten here as a result of our virtue. We’ve gotten here through a sin, and it’s time to repent.

May God have mercy on us all.

(image via Pixabay)

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