If one took all the problems of the world, the mistakes, misuses, and yes, even what we call evil, you could put it all in one big basket labeled "Ignorance." There is hope however. Ignorance is not stupid. Ignorance implies only that one does not know, but one can always learn. Stupid implies a lack of normal intelligence, and thus perhaps not able to know.
Most of us are not stupid; but we are all ignorant in different ways. Sometimes our ignorance is just pride, or a stubborn inability to change our minds, sometimes just a refusal to accept that which contradicts what we want.
No one sets out to be evil. Everyone wants to be loved, or respected by their companions. We do the best we can, but sometimes we try to take shortcuts, and we end up in a very different situation than we anticipated. Then in our ignorance, an evil deed seems the only way out.
Life is a learning process. We come into this world ignorant, and learn slowly. We tolerate the demanding ways of small children, as we realize they don't know any better. We are fortunate that 2 year olds don't have the physical power of a grown man. Unfortunately there are grown men and women who are as ignorant in some ways as 2 year olds.
An ignorant tendency that is common in much of humanity is the tendency to think of people in terms of us and them. In reality, there is only us. There are no them. We are all in this together. We share the earth and its providence. Our salvation is in our ability to cooperate.
We have been created with endless variation for our benefit, not just to supply us with enemies to overcome, or victims to live off. To gain one's security by eliminating all thems, would be to end up alone in the world. Such is the harvest of ignorance. Intelligence is in Christ's Golden Rule to treat others as you would have them treat you. It recognizes only us no them. Evil is defined as ignorance in his declaration from the cross to "Forgive them for they know not what they do."
We don't always like the truth when it fails to make us look good. We don't always like to give a full day's work for an agreed-to day's pay. Facts can be very demanding and unforgiving, but we invariably get in trouble when we try to circumvent them. We often want advantage more than we want the truth, or fairness. We see our advantage as fairness.
Just as the tradesman must respect the rules of his trade to be successful, we must learn to observe the rules that govern our lives if we are to enjoy a rewarding life. The universe, and all of the controlling laws that work together to govern it (and there are many) can only be the result of a supreme intelligence. Such precise control and organization could never come by accident, or without reason. To believe that a constructive, loving God would create an evil force to disrupt his creation is ridiculous. Ignorance was never established by intelligence. Intelligence erases ignorance. Only mankind experiences, and must therefore overcome ignorance.
Evil is simply the result of our ignorance. When we disrespect the laws that govern our lives, and the world at large, we inevitably suffer in one way or another. Not recognizing our own ignorance, bullheadedness, egotistical demands (the list of ignorant characterizations is endless), we blame it on evil powers in the world. We doom ourselves only as our ignorance remains intractable.
So, what's the solution? Education, and before you burn your Bible, cut out and save for your possible redemption the 7th verse of chapter 4 in the book of Proverbs, "Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding."
May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org