Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Reality of Evil

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the attack on America planned and executed by a group of men who were completely given over to evil.

There is no excuse for what they did. There are no mitigating circumstances. There is no justification for jihad, no possible way of seeing them as less than monsters--except for the unfortunate and inconvenient fact that they were not monsters; they were men.

Men who were completely given over to evil. Sons of perdition. The wicked, who flee when no man pursueth.

In our civilized world we don't often speak of "evil." It sounds so primitive. We have no frame of reference for the word. Even our murders are presumed insane, when they aren't presumed innocent; insane, chemically unbalanced, the product of a neglectful childhood or a misunderstood and tragic youth. There's no need to bring "evil" into our discussions of such things. There's certainly no need to see a force of spiritual darkness that has been on the hunt like an angry wolf since before the fall of Man.

Yet there are times when that dark Enemy isn't content with letting the world and the flesh get all the credit for sin. He is proud, after all, devilishly proud, and nothing causes him greater glee than an act of vicious and unmistakable Evil that we can't explain away with our criminal Darwinism or our pat psychologies.

An act like the acts of destruction unleashed upon our nation six years ago today.

Since that day, a lot of hot air, ink, and pixels have been expended on the question of what to do now, of how to put this ugly genii back into its cracked bottle. The answers have involved wars and rumors of wars, with no end in sight: violence begetting violence, men contending with men, from the day Cain slew Abel down to the present day, continuing on past our seeing. If we have answered incorrectly, it is because we answered the first question incorrectly, the question asked with such terror in those moments immediately following the attacks: Who did this? Who is responsible?

In some sense, we got part of the answer right. We went forth, a mighty host, to bring those who supported and enabled such acts to their knees, to break their power so this would never happen again. But a funny thing happened on the way to Afghanistan: opportunities that had little to do with the present crisis were discussed, ways to expand our circle of enemies were sought, a new and different country was centered in our sights, and all the panoply of war was turned against an enemy we had faced before in a move that smacked of economic opportunism and even of retribution.

Now, with that war fast losing popularity, with our people wearied of the endless news of death and ceaseless violence, the sabers are pointing in a new direction, toward yet another enemy, someone else who might enable terror. Having once gained the approval for preemptive war our leaders have developed a taste and a thirst for it, and are on their way to becoming addicted.

Before we go any farther, we must find the whole answer to the question: Who did this? Who is responsible?

Beyond the shadowy organizations of Muslim extremism, beyond the even more shadowy leaders who drift into view for a moment and then fade away again like the cowards they are, beyond the coalitions and alliances of kakistocrats and their lackeys in governments dotting the Middle East like a disease, lies a reality we've forgotten, and have forgotten how to fight.

If we don't confront the evil behind these things on our knees, with the weapons of prayer and fasting needed to confront such demons, we will lose in the end, whether we secure Baghdad, take Tehran, and start looking to Damascus. Even if we gain the whole world, we will lose our souls.

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