Let me be clear.
I believe in evil.
I also believe in artfully dodging the predispositions of my readers.
Because I believe in artfully dodging the predispositions of my readers, here’s an unorthodox reason I believe in evil:
Anton Chigurh is not real.
Of course not.
He was created by Cormac McCarthy.
Born in ink.
Given a terrible haircut before being immortalized in celluloid by the Brothers comma Coen.
Anton Chigurh is a terrifying example of the foulest depths of human nature.
A walking, remorseless death machine, he’s easy to explain, but difficult to get.
Anton Chigurh is what people look like devoid of an ounce of mercy.
Mercilessness is a nasty little potion of unchecked judgment and deadly action, a poison meant to steal, kill, and destroy.
Mercilessness is completely okay with wasting things. And people.
When I say judgment, I do not mean the ability to size up a situation to accurately divide truth from distortion, nor the ability to distinguish life-giving things from things that cause decay.
Our first line of resistance against mercilessness, against seeing other people as little more important than the evening trash, is compassion.
Compassion is every bit as active as malevolence.
It is more interested in truth than politics or trends.
It is protective in ways that are fiercely unselfish.
It is humble, and not shaming.
It is disciplined, and not abusive.
It is protective, and not hostile.
Real compassion extinguishes years of self-obsession instantly.
It snatches us away from the belief that the taste of sabotage will melt across our tongues sweeter than honey.
Dr. Henri Nouwen once said compassion is when the call to help another person supersedes your need to become an object of human interest.
Pure mercy is equal parts righteous indignance, gentleness, outrage, and love.
It is bearably humiliating, changing us from potential devils into flesh-and-blood human beings in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
It is the voice inside that suddenly roars, “I WILL do something to stop this horrible thing. Right now.”
Look at Anton Chigurh.
Clearly mercy is one of the few things standing between us and hell on earth.
Basic compassion is so fundamental that we’re fascinated by those born without it.
Somewhere tonight, there is silence in the mouth of someone who should unquestionably have somebody’s undivided attention.
Watch the news.
Someone somewhere is always at the mercy of someone who is merciless.
Each of us, in our own way, hear that soundless call to help other people through this life.
To build, and not destroy.
It is our way of kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.
How are you kicking at the darkness today?
Meditation inspired by No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, Joel and Ethan Coen, Matthew 7:12, and The Chigurh Haircut.
“Nothin’ worth havin’ comes without a fight. You gotta kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.” -Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”
Photo via IMDB.