Monday, June 18, 2012

Not just Jezebel

The name Jezebel became so famous that an older generation of Americans remember when some woman might be referred to as a Jezebel. What we forget is that if we go back and read the story of today's first reading, we find first of all that the reading has nothing to do with infidelity; it is about power.

There have always been power-hungry women, just as there have always been power-hungry men. We call the men ambitious and the women we call....

In all cases, from Jezebel's plot and murder of one man to Hilter's murder of millions, they all need one thing, collaborators. Sometimes it is active collaboration, sometimes it is the passive collaboration of silence. Without their collaborators they would be nothing.

What makes collaboration in sin so insidious is that it often looks so innocuous or even good. In the first reading today it could be described as patriotism, loyalty to the king. Often it is carried out by nice people, the ones who go along to get along. They don't want to be troublemakers.

And when the evil is finally exposed for what it is the collaborators are often the first to run from their own responsibility and history remembers only Jezebel, as if it were all her fault.

What they all forget is that a sin of omission is still a sin, and no human authority can make something that is a sin not a sin. We are reminded once again of of the famous quote often attributed to Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

This is as true in small everyday things as it is in global things.