Sunday, August 17, 2008

"How do we respond to evil in the world?"

Stolen from JOTMAN

The distinction between John McCain and Barack Obama could not have been made more clear. I'm watching Pastor Rick Warren's Q&A with the presidential candidates live on CNN. Warren has now asked both candidates what, if anything, should be done about the problem "evil" in the world.

First, Pastor Warren's question:

Does evil exist, and if so, should we ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it?

McCain's answer:

Defeat it. (applause) Couple points. One. If I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the Gates of Hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that. No one should be allowed to take thousands of innocent American lives.

McCain's answer continued. He spoke about the importance of supporting General Petreus in winning the Iraq war. (When CNN rebroadcast the clip, the network omitted the fact he went on to discuss the Iraq war. I think the omission is regrettable).

When asked the same question, Obama replied:

Evil does exist. I think we see evil all the time. We see evil in Darfur. We see evil -- sadly -- on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children. And I think it has to be confronted. It has to be confronted squarely. And one of the things that I strongly believe is that we are not going to -- as individuals -- be able to erase evil from the world. That is God's task. But we can be soldiers in that process. And we can confront it when we see it.

Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil. Because a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil. (Warren: "in the name of good.") In the name of good. And I think one thing that's very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think our intentions are good doesn't mean we are going to be doing good.

Now, suppose Warren had also invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to his mega-church today and asked the Iranian leader the same question about evil. Ahmadinejad would have likely replied in words similar to these:

A new Islamic revolution ... will, if God wills, cut off the roots of injustice in the world.*

Evil? Clearly, Ahmadinejad aims to defeat it.

Of the three -- McCain, Obama, and Ahmadinejad -- only one man's answer stands out as markedly different from the other two.
* Quote from the Times (London).

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