April 2, 2020

Standing Up For Truth

By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

This statement haunts my very being. I was a person who helped Evil triumph through the action of being evil and cloaking it in “being nice” until I wasn’t. In my previous life, I would use my wiles to get people to believe in me through my words and then my actions would crush them. This is true of many people, although not to the same extent as I practiced. In these past almost 26 years, I have done everything in my power and enlisted the help and guidance of others to stay away from the actions of evil.

What makes this statement haunt me is that, as Reinhold Niebuhr reminds us, “ There is a mystery of evil in human life to which modern culture has been completely oblivious.” Most people see evil in the grand terms, i.e. 911, Chemical Warfare, etc. and I am haunted by the evil that most of us don’t see or are oblivious to. This is the evil of everyday living. This is the evil that we perpetrate on others through not seeing others as human. This is the evil that people do to others in order to “get what they want”. In the old days, my mantra was if I could take it, it was mine. This is evil thinking and, in a ‘dog eat dog’ survival of the fittest culture, this mantra could make sense to others. This unseen evil is the one that uses the vulnerabilities of another against them, i.e. using words in such ways as to get people to do things that are against their best interests (Bernie Madoff, et al.) or using our words to obfuscate Truth and get people to buy lies believing they are true (i.e. con men, 2008 meltdown, etc.). This quote of Pastor Niebuhr comes from a book called Insecurity of Freedom by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Rabbi Heschel goes on to state that Pastor Niebuhr’s problem is “the confusion of good and evil.”

This is what haunts me the most, hence my beginning with Mr. Burke’s quote. In order to stop this confusion of, obliviousness to this unseen evil we have to become aware, clear and, as the Bible teaches us, “lift up our eyes and see.” I have found that the only way I can do this is through T’Shuvah— Redemption. When I look at my day and I realize what I did well and not so well, I am no longer confused nor do I confuse good and evil. When I write down my daily inventory, I am no longer oblivious to both good and evil. When I see what needs repair and what needs to be enhanced the next day and each day after, I have lifted up my eyes to see Truth and I have a clear view of the world, my place in it and how I can add to my corner of this world.

This is why I am Addicted to Redemption. We are in a state of being that hasn’t progressed from Reinhold Niebuhr’s time. In fact, some may say that we are in a worse state than ever before in confusing good and evil. My usual response has been to be angry, scream, yell, and to want to crush evil. Yet, I know that none of these reactions work; they may make me feel better AND they do nothing to fix the problem. I am asking you all to join me in DOING SOMETHING about the evil in our world, our communities and ourselves. I am asking you to join me in doing T’Shuvah each day, lifting up our eyes to see how we are being oblivious and to clear up the confusion of good and evil in the world.

"Please note that the posts on The Blogs are contributed by third parties. The opinions, facts and any media content in them are presented solely by the authors, and neither The Jewish Journal nor its partners assume any responsibility for them. Please contact us in case of abuse."