Meister Eckhart offers an amazing teaching when he says: “All things praise God. Even evil and suffering praise God and bless God.”
This is a hard saying to meditate on but sometimes a necessary one. Before we move on from the traumatic events of January 6, 2021 and their aftermath, let us examine what important lessons we might have learned.
Evil exists. It happens. Even in America. Even in our hallowed halls commemorating our common political foundations.
Men (and some women) can be very vicious and violent and scary.
Democracy is more tenuous than we thought.
Some elected officials will sell their souls at bargain basement prices. The question, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his or her soul?” seems more relevant than ever.
Hypocrisy seems to be a sin especially difficult for politicians to resist.
Tribalism and mob energy may lie just below the surface.
Now we know how Hitler succeeded so spectacularly while beating up on his opponents and arousing “love” from his fanatical followers.
For some, justice is just a word.
For some, love is just a word.
For some, democracy is just a word.
Sadists and masochists get along well in the political sphere—you send others to invade my space and threaten to kill me; and I acquit you a few weeks later.
Courage is rare.
Conscience is also rare.
Civics lessons were dispensed liberally to the public at large—two-third majorities needed for impeachment, okay to disobey rules about silence and being present for impeachment debates in the senate if they feel like it.
Some men (and women) get stuck in their reptilian brains for a very long time.
Patriarchy is alive and well in 21st century halls of congress.
A few men and women are courageous and risked their jobs to speak truth.
The same is true of many policemen who risked their lives in service of others.
Some people, such as the House team, demonstrated competence and professionalism and did their job splendidly.
Taking oaths of office to defend the constitution may mean nothing at all.
Idolatry is alive and well in American politics.
A politician’s vocation today, alas!, is not always virtuous or something the young will aspire to.
There is no price to pay for lying loudly and often about election results.
Claiming to have won an election one lost by seven million votes is a “big lie.” But denying climate change is the biggest lie of all and prepared the way for the big election lie (as well as for the current calamity in Texas.) Denial is denial is denial and, as Aquinas taught, a “mortal sin,” i.e. deadly to the soul and the body politic.
Eckhart was not so far off base after all. There are always lessons to learn from actions both good and evil.
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. xxiii-xxxviii.
Banner Image; Seven GOP senators voted with Democrats to convict Donald Trump: the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history. Top: Senators Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Mitt Romney (UT). Bottom: Senators Ben Sasse (NE), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Pat Toomey (PA). Senators Burr, Cassidy, and Sasse have faced state censure for their votes. Photos: U.S. Senate Photo Office. On Wikimedia Commons.
Do you agree with Aquinas that “choosing to be ignorant of something important” is a “mortal sin,” i.e. a deadly virus to one’s own soul and the soul of the community? How important is it that we “deny denial” (Eckhart’s words)