All morality, all ethics, is about choices. Consider the ancient teaching from Deuteronomy: “I put before you life and death. Choose life.” Life is a choice. So is death. We can choose. What shall it be: Biophilia…or Necrophilia?
We have choices, deep ones, real ones. Yesterday we meditated on the choice that Jesus made—one he made throughout his life frequently—between choosing the ways of the Empire’s kingdom. Or a divine kingdom. By choosing how to fashion a parade. We all participate in such choices on a regular basis like Jesus did.
Sometimes we choose badly. Traditionally, we call that sin. Or missing the mark. When we choose real badly, we call it evil.
Evil is bigger than sin. Evil releases necrophilia on a grand scale, one that engulfs many others, often for generations, in trauma and suffering and pain. Evil ties itself to powers and principalities and thus, evil spirits.
Consider slavery. Consider colonialism. Consider genocide. Consider war. Consider lynchings. Consider “boarding schools” for indigenous children that cut them off from their families, their religion, their culture, their language and ceremonies. Consider the trauma that follows. Often passed on from generation to generation.
Humans are capable of amazing things—our music and laughter, our bridges and medicines, our science and art, our communities and rituals. For the very same reason, our powers of creativity and intellect, we are capable of great evil. Thomas Aquinas says that one human being can do more evil than all the other species put together. How did he know this 7 centuries before Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot? Because he recognized our powerful intellects and imaginations—our creativity—that was both god-like and potentially demonic.
Yes, we have choices.
For example, we can work hard, harnessing all our resources and imagination, to fight against climate change. OR, we can choose to be in denial about it. (Something an entire political party has chosen to do for over 30 years even as the world burns.) Politicians fiddle while the world burns. A bigger deal by far than Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.
Denial is one of the most prevalent sins, or conduits to evil, that humans have. It is a form of lying. And without truth, the best in us is out the door. God is out the door. “Alternative facts” reign.
Denial about Mother Earth’s sufferings at our hands. Denial about racism in our midst and baked into our social structures. Denial about women’s rights and the omnipresence of sexism still. Denial about the abandonment of truth.
About denial, Thomas Aquinas teaches this: It is a mortal sin (meaning a deadly virus to one’s own self and the community. to choose to be ignorant of something important that one ought to know about.
Climate change and the rest are important. Those in denial are spreading death; they are necrophiliacs.
No wonder Meister Eckhart said, “God is the denial of denial.” And Gandhi and so many others have said, “God is truth.”
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp.xxiii-xxviii.
Do you see Denial on the rise? Why do you think that is so? What can we do about it?