The recent events and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia are tragic, reprehensible, and embarrassing. They represent the divisions and strife that currently entangle our society. Yet, even after the killing and injuries are over, we continue to cast blame on who or what has created this cultural coalescence of volatile tension.
Underneath the divisions and resultant blame, an older and deeper epidemiology is expressing itself anew. The fall of humankind distorted the good image of God in which we were made. Our human nature bends toward strife and bitterness toward one another. After Adam and Eve were confronted by God because they had partaken of the fruit forbidden, what did they do? They played the blame game, casting blame on one another (Genesis 3:8-13). Blame allowed them and allows us to avoid looking at the real root of the problem: our fallen sinful nature and need for reconciliation. Blame has the potential to denigrate our societal relationships into an ugly hatred, making us divisive and adversarial. Instead of seeing the goodness of our brother and sister, who too have been made in God’s image, we see them as our enemy.
Concerning Charlottesville, one commentator was reminded of an event involving Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. Eichmann was one of the architects behind the Holocaust. He was brought to trial, and a man named Yehiel Dinur was brought as a witness to testify against him. Dinur had been brutally tortured in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz and was forced to stand by as many of his friends were executed by Eichmann’s regime. Dinur entered the courtroom, saw the face of the man who caused the suffering, and “literally collapsed on the floor, sobbing violently.”
One might assume Dinur’s collapse was a result of meeting a man who caused so much pain. That was not the case. When interviewed by “60 Minutes” years later, Dinur explained what happened. Eichmann did not look like an evil monster. He looked like an ordinary human being. “I realized,” said Dinur, “that evil is endemic to the human condition – that any one of us could commit the same atrocities.”
Should groups who perpetuate racism and hatred be condemned and shunned? Yes. Yet, let us not get caught up in another round of blame game. We are all prejudice against certain demographics to certain degrees. We all have a little Eichmann or a little James Alex Fields Jr. in us. Let us humble ourselves before our Reconciler that we might have the strength to be reconciled to one another (cp. 2 Corinthians 5:19).