“We should teach our children how to think, not what to think.” ~Variously ascribed
Like many aspects of humanity, history loves easy answers, and that is often part of the mistake that leads us to repeat war, depression, oppression, corruption, destruction.
The 20th century loves to blame Adolf Hitler and pin on him the moniker of “history’s greatest monster,” and I think that’s a mistake. You don’t have to look very far or very hard to find people all over that world today with ideas just as “evil” as Hitler’s, and you don’t have to look very hard at Hitler himself to find all sorts of characters just like him all around him. Adolf Hitler didn’t come to power in a vacuum. It took a culture of Naziism and a society of starvation and aggression for him to rise to power. In fact, if you went back in time and assassinated him the day before the Beer Hall Putsch, we might be calling Ernst Röhm or Hermann Göring or even Benito Mussolini “history’s greatest monster.”
The evil doesn’t come from individuals, it comes from whole societies, societies filled with desperate, superstitious, ignorant people willing and eager to be led.
I thought about this when I was covering a recent event at a local church, whose guest was Todd Keene and The Power Team. This is a group of hype-aggressive body builders whose cause is, ostensibly, to minister their Christian message through entertainment. Their style is loud and intimidating, and appeals to the young, the weak-willed, and the impressionable. In some ways, it represents a literal bully pulpit.
Between sessions of breaking flaming cinder blocks and bending steel horseshoes, these body builders took turns testifying their discovery of Christianity. One of the most emotional testimonies at this recent event was from one named … uh, something pretentious and violent like “Buzz Sawyer.” He told his story from 20 years earlier when his life had bottomed out in a Louisiana jail cell.
One of his essential messages was that god’s love is unconditional, then he listed the conditions. No, really. One of them was, “If you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your savior, your eyes will open in hell. Only Jesus Christ can fill the void,” he added, and it was pretty apparent that he was manufacturing the “void” right before our eyes. If you weren’t like him – popular, famous, strong, powerful, Christian – there was something missing in your life, and he was going to fill the hole. Okay, he was going to tell us what we had to do to fill the hole.