“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke
Unfortunately, shrieking endlessly or speaking sternly about some lunatic and his or her antics through a large media microphone passes for “doing something” these days. I have a different idea to consider.
First, a lesson we would all do well to remember during these challenging days of “good” vs. “evil.” Remember good old Dr. Seuss and his masterpiece, How the Grinch Stole Christmas? The Grinch, a dark, misguided individual who looked at Christmas with nothing but disgust and hatred, decided to do his best to take it away from the people who loved the day and everything it stood for. He stole the symbols and outer wrappings of the holiday from every home in Whoville, and left behind a bleak, bare landscape for everyone who hoped to wake to a joyful day.
Remember the end? At dawn, the town’s families gathered to welcome the holiday with fellowship and song. In the timeless words of the good Doctor himself, “This sound wasn’t sad. Why . . . this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without any presents at all! He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came! Somehow or other, it came just the same.”
The Grinch himself was understandably confused. “It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!”
And now we have Florida’s Rev. Terry Jones doing his own impression of the Grinch, hoping to make his hate-filled statement about Muslims and America and Christianity and good vs. evil or whatever else he’s trying to say. Let’s take our lesson from the Who’s and do the right thing here. Not one of them spent as much as a minute lamenting the depravity of the Grinch, the nature of his ill will or the ways they could help him overcome his unkind actions. Not one of them asked him to reconsider. Not one made a speech about how despicable his actions were. Instead, they gathered. They sang. They celebrated everything that is good, and joy-filled and loving about the holiday and showed their good will through their actions. They even welcomed the Grinch at their table.
This is why if and when Jones holds his book burning, the rest of us should turn away from the misguided actions of one, and instead hold joyful gatherings of many. Koran Burning Day should be relegated to page 26, and the front of every newspaper and web page in the country should instead focus on our national Coast to Coast Backyard Picnic Day — it needs a better title — and show images of Americans sharing fellowship and peaceful co-existence.
Americans like the ones who attend the Korean Church of Lehigh Valley or the Lehigh Islamic Center, two places of worship that are right across the street from each other. Literally. They’re just hundreds of feet apart. Or like the members of the Heartsong Church in Tennessee who welcomed an Islamic center to their neighborhood. And there are hundreds of other communities of worship across the country that illustrate our freedom and diversity.
I want to believe that the natural inclination of most Americans, the Jersey Shore cast notwithstanding, is to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity, don’t you? We’re not the Grinch. We’re the Who’s.
Let’s move the exhaustive media coverage out of Florida and focus it instead on the coast-to-coast evidence that illustrates the unrelenting tolerance, acceptance, open-mindedness, and religious freedom that flourishes in this country. That’s the story that needs to be shouted from the top of Mount Crumpet.
Renee James writes social commentary and keeps track of the things that mystify her on her blog: “It’s not me, it’s you,” found at reneeaj.blogspot.com. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.