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Clive Staples Lewis is one of my favorites. The Chronicles of Narnia books were da bomb as a child (still are) and he’s a frequent font of wisdom as an adult. We could probably fill Quotes of the Day for years and not dry out his wisdom well, so deep and clear is his thinking. Not to worry, I picked just a handful I’ve been pondering during lockdown, interspersed with brief narrative tying them together to fill a few days this month. No need for explanation on the correlation between lockdown extremes and these first two:
The greatest evils in the world will not be carried out by men with guns, but by men in suits sitting behind desks.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
What is evil?
While most would agree Class A Level 1 felonies and people like Stalin/Mao/Hitler/Charles Manson/Ted Bundy are evil, the Book of Proverbs has a short list that covers a lot of ground and is as applicable today as when written.
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes [looking down on others with disdain], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV)
In fact, “every day” malevolent acts abound in modern society.
“What about those things that aren’t this type of evil, but aren’t necessarily good?” you might ask. The tricky nebulous things categorized as necessary evils are at the crux of many current public policy discussions. Often we hear arguments presented as though the only choices available are the “lesser of two evils.” Lewis has a couple of perspicacious cautions:
He (the devil) always sends errors into the world in pairs–pairs of opposites…He relies on your extra dislike of one to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.
Do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.
There are unpleasant things that are done or accepted in order to achieve a goal or objective; governments and taxes come to mind, TSA imaging to prevent terror attacks, or social networking insofar as it replaces face-to-face interaction and meaningful relationships with others. Even those necessary evils that are accepted must never become so customary we start to think of them as “good.”
Next up, we’ll take a dip into some C.S. Lewis thoughts on The Good.Published in