“lesser evil” is still evil

Friend Marshall Massey speaks my mind in his recent Facebook post, copied below.

Supporting either the Democratic or Republican party as they are today is support for a massive military budget and militarized foreign policy, unauthorized drone assassinations and terrorization of civilian populations, a taxation/financial system that supports economic slavery of the vast majority of our fellow citizens and allows millions of children and adults to live in hunger, a news media monopoly that supports propaganda rather than journalism, military vehicles, weapons and practices in what are supposed to be domestic peace keeping forces, which routinely execute unarmed Black men, women and children, a criminal system that targets people of color, and environmental policies that continue to support fossil fuel development and disregard for sacred sites of indigenous people and that will continue to pollute the air and poison our land an water.


Here’s a painful truth: The argument for voting for a “lesser evil” follows the same logic as the argument for going to war. It says, “Yes, what I am supporting will do great harm, but it is necessary to stop a greater harm.”


In the 1960s and 1970s, one of the things that drew me to Friends was that so many seemed to me to understand the fallacy of this argument. It was the Cold War era, the Viet Nam War era, and all around us people were saying, “We must be prepared to drop bombs to save the world from Communism. It will be necessary to destroy the village in order to save it!”


Friends came to my life as such a breath of fresh air. They seemed to me to understand that Christ has called us to follow the path of doing-only-good, not the path of embracing-one-evil-to-try-to-stop-another. Recognizing that nonresistance to evil movements has its price, they called it the Path of the Cross. They spoke of obedience to God and trust in God’s power, and of what it means to set an example of pure goodness in the midst of a darkened world. And to all this, the witness of God within me approved.


But lately I have been besieged, here on Facebook, by Quakers of my own generation who do not see that this same principle holds true in *all* situations — not just vis-à-vis wars, but also vis-à-vis elections. They have returned to the way of the world, the way of imagining that purely hoped-for ends, ends that may never become real, or that may need no evil assistance to become real, should nonetheless be used to justify damaging things. They loudly seek to justify their support for people who will do harm, and they preach compromise with evil to others.


I’ve been hearing, in my heart, the voice of Isaiah speaking for God —


“‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says YHWH,
“‘Who take counsel, but not of Me,
“‘And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit,
“That they may add sin to sin;
“Who walk to go down to Egypt [as an ally against Assyria],
“‘And have not asked My advice,
To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh….’”
                            Marshall Massey, Facebook
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