On Exclusion and The Other

…the power of evil imposes itself so irresistibly through the operations of a transpersonal “system” that is both “institutional” and “spiritual.” Caught in the system of exclusion as if in some invisible snare, people behave according to its perverted logic.

How does the system work? Consider first what might be considered the “background cacophony of evil.” It permeates institutions, communities, nations, whole epochs… This is the low-intensity evil of the way “things work” or the way “things simply are,” the exclusionary vapors of institutional or communal cultures under which many suffer but for which no one is responsible and about which all complain but no one can target. This all-pervasive low-intensity evil rejuvenates itself by engendering belief in its own immortality and imposes itself bu generating a sense of its own ineluctability.

In extraordinary situations and under extraordinary directors certain themes from the “background cacophony” are picked up, orchestrated into a bellicose musical, and played up. “Historians”—national, communal, or personal interpreters of the past—trumpet the double theme of the former glory and past victimization; “economists: join in with the accounts of present exploitation and great economic potentials; ”political scientists“ add the theme of the growing imbalance of power, of steadily giving ground, of losing control over what is rightfully ours; ”cultural anthropologists“ bring in the dangers of the loss of identity and extol the singular value of our personal or cultural gifts, capable of genuinely enriching the outside world; ”politicians“ pick up all four themes and weave them into a high-pitched aria about the threats to vital interests posed by the other who is therefore the very incarnation of evil; finally the ”priests” enter into a solemn procession and accompany all this with a soothing background chant that offers to any whose consciences may have been bothered the assurance that God is on our side and that our enemy is the enemy of God and therefore an adversary of everything that is true, good, and beautiful.

As this bellicose musical with reinforcing themes is broadcast through the media, resonances are created with the background cacophony of evil that permeates the culture of a community, and the community finds itself singing the music and marching to its tune. To refuse to sing and march, to protest the madness of the spectacle, appears irrational and irresponsible, naive and cowardly, treacherous toward one’s own and dangerously sentimental toward the evil enemy. The stage for “ethnic cleansing” and similar “eruptions” of evil—personal as well as communal—is set. The first shot only needs to be fired and the chain reaction will start.

–Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, pg 87-88

“First- illegal entry into the United States is a crime—as it should be. Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
–Jeff Sessions, defending forcibly taking children from immigrants

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
–Donald Trump

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country, you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are… These aren’t people. These are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a rate that’s never happened before.”
–Donald Trump

It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.
–C.G. Jung, “After the Catastrophe”

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