Saturday 17 July 2021

Patient long suffering or complicity with evil

The Philosopher Edward Feser - whose book on Aquinas I found very valuable - has a recent post about the need for patient suffering among church Christians. (This post was triggered by Pope Francis's latest act of destruction against the Roman Catholic Church.)

This is a perspective worthy of respect. This world is full of abuses, perhaps more than ever before in human history. And especially full of those in authority who are not merely selfishly corrupt, but agents of Satan covertly dedicated to the destruction of those institutions they have undertaken to sustain. I have known many of these active in medicine, universities and science - indeed they seem to be something between majority and a monopoly in these and other fields. 

That we should patiently suffer these is certainly a possibility. Because as well as evil-motivated leaders, there is a mass majority who are faithless cowards - and few of us are altogether free of these weaknesses. 

Yet also, someone who claims patiently to suffer may not really be suffering - but may blandly be indifferent from lack of real faith in the church (or lack of real commitment to whatever institution). Or may instead be exploiting the evil for personal, careerist gain. 

Or he may also be going beyond patient suffering and on to active complicity with evil - by passive or even active complicity with evil purposes - for example working hard and diligently to assist with change that is intended to subvert or destroy that which is good.

As usual, motivation is all. Because someone who claims to be opposing evil might well be doing so for evil reasons - from personal resentment, for example. To try and make his own life more comfortable or secure. Or because of the desire to cause faster and greater destruction. 

Given the mixed nature of our own motivations, the case for patient suffering may be a strong one. But if so, we should be as clear and explicit as possible just what it is we are suffering, and why.  

What we do is secondary to our motivation; and of course people lie about motivations - especially when justifying themselves to others. 

The main duty is not to lie to ourselves about what is motivating us; to recognize that it is the reality which matters, and not what we succeed in persuading other people is true. 

And to repent whatever in our true motivation needs repenting.  


Evan Pangburn said...

"Because someone who claims to be opposing evil might well be doing so for evil reasons"

He might indeed be fighting evil, not merely claiming to.

Evil fights evil all the time, the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend in the realm of spiritual warfare.

In fact, he usually isn't.

Jacob Gittes said...

My impression is that evil is destroying institutions so quickly now that one won't need that much more patience. It's going hyperbolic. Even where I live in rural America, systems are breaking down and not fulfilling their functions.