Courage to Live in the Face of Evil

Courage to Live in the Face of Evil January 8, 2020

How do you have hope, in the face of growing war, genocide, and complete obliteration?

This question has troubled me for years, but most especially in the past few days, in the light of the growing political turmoil in Iran, international reactions and immigration holds, coupled with the overwhelming natural disasters that have insanely coincidental timing.

Do I think the end of the world is here?


Do I think it feels that way, to myself and so many others I know?


It’s strange, approaching what will no doubt spiral into WWIII, whether this year or in a decade, and not being afraid of death. I suppose perpetual suicidal ideation and depression aid in that, and though I can’t say I’m grateful for either of those things, it helps me separate myself from the paralyzing fear I see so many of my loved ones going through because of these events.

I don’t want to talk about those events–I am not smart enough to do so, and frankly, I just don’t have the energy.

But I do want to talk about what makes life worth living–only because I have listed to myself all the thousands of reasons to end my own life, and yet still find some thread that pulls me from bed in the morning to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, drive to work, write this blog post.

We all have different things that keep us living–and there is nothing wrong with those reasons. Live for your cats, your neighbors, your coworkers, your significant other, your crafts, your books, your fandoms, your dreams.

Even before these recent events, I’d been thinking a lot about what regular, ordinary people, left behind on the home front while soldiers were deployed overseas to fight against the Nazis in WWII–partially because my current novel surrounds that war, and partially because so many current world events mirror that terrible time. I think about them, getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, going to work.

Were they wrong for adhering to the routine that kept them sane, that kept their families fed?

No, of course not. They were doing what they needed to do to keep their pocket of the world growing.

And that is a powerful thing.

I may not believe in most things from my Catholic faith, but one thing I do still believe in is the power of the small actions, the small moments, the seemingly insignificant lives that set the grass roots for what makes it all worth fighting for.

As Samwise Gamgee says in the filmed interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

It is overwhelmingly easy to lie down and give up. It is so tempting to toss this burden from our shoulders because of the pain it causes–it is so unbelievably painful to care, to have a heart that still beats for others when you, as an individual, are powerless to help them.

But your caring helps. More than any of us will ever know in this lifetime.

It is okay that it hurts. It should–it means you are human, it means that you want better from the world than it is currently giving, it means that your heart is not dead.

Keep your heart alive, dear one. Because that is what makes the difference.

One of my favorite quotes that so many of us know is, “Evil thrives when good men do nothing,” but I don’t think it is simply reflecting the necessity of fighting evil in our daily lives, in our political and militaristic avenues, in the world at large. It is certainly a true statement applied there, but it occurred to me last night that it is no less true when applied to our daily lives.

When good men do nothing.

That could very easily mean the small moments that make up our daily life, couldn’t it? To let evil have the last word, to let manipulation, abuse, horror take over and to lay back and not keep living, not keep living, not keep hoping for beauty this world does still have the potential to give.

Get up and text your girlfriend. Tell her you love her. Remember with a smile and a blush how sweet and perfect your first kiss was.

Write on your novel.

Paint those sketches you haven’t been able to put down.

Plant those bulbs in the frozen ground of your garden, knowing that in the Spring they will bloom and surprise you with the tenacity to live beyond the current conditions.

Smile at the man passing you on the street.

Hold the door open for the mom tugging around her three kids.

Laugh when you hear a good joke, and keep laughing when you remember it later.

Keep your memories close.

Take those pictures people make fun of you for.

Get that tattoo you’ve put off.

Show the world and the villains that seek its destruction that they will not, cannot, take away our will to live, and live fully.

Tell them to fuck off and hold that tender caring in your heart that gives you the strength to keep going.

That is the first step in fighting back.

Life will always find a way. Always. 



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About Jennifer Riley
Jennifer Riley is our co-leader. She’s an emotional writer, engulfing people in her tidal wave of life experiences and interpretations. She’s a bad Catholic, a good sinner, and a pernicious writer who tries to find who she is to herself and to God through her words. You can find her writer page at You can read more about the author here.

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