The Haitian earthquake has brought to the floor a discussion about the role of evil in the world. The musings of Pat Robertson claiming that the death and destruction of that impoverished nation come from a "pact with the devil" should and has been opposed. (Click here to read Rex Murphy's contribution or click here to read what is most likely the best response to date)
There is however one small grain of truth in his malicious claim: evil (sin) is indeed responsible for death and destruction, but this evil was wrought by human hands.
Consider if you will this column from David Brooks (NY Times) in which he points out that when an earthquake of the same magnitude struck San Francisco (1989) it resulted in the death of just over 60 people. Yet the same strength event resulted in over 50,000 deaths in Haiti. What was the cause of this horrific difference? Poverty, unenforced building codes, and lack of civil services. Each of these causes can clearly be laid upon human shoulders.
To find the real root of this tragedy, one needs to look for the "devil in the details". It is from the sinful roots of the human heart that kept Haiti in such extreme poverty, both within the Haitian people and from the lack of justice that this nation experienced at the hands of richer nations. Greed, prejudice and the lust for power were the determinative factors in the thousands of deaths in the most recent earthquake.
The true question for us to explore when we plumb the depths of darkness in the human heart is how these evil impulses are spawned. This is where we will find the fingerprints of the devil.
Sin exists in this world only because we permit it to. Christ has been victorious in his battle with evil; we need only accept his teachings to share in his victory. The devil has reign in this world only to the degree that we cooperate with his seductive initiatives. His ability to manipulate the human heart and mind must be countered with actions of faith, love and charity if we truly want to bring about a better world for all.
It was the shifting of tectonic plates that caused the earthquake. It was from our cooperation with evil that makes us the agents of death and despair as has been made manifest in Haiti. Our generosity in responding to this tragedy is only the first step in dealing with the devil's handiwork. Choosing to follow the path offered to us by a loving God and forgoing our selfish participation with the devil is the only way that we can authentically deal with the existence of evil in the world.
About Fr. Tim
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