“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke
Years ago my father brought home an electric typewriter he had found somewhere. He brought it in the back door, sat it down on the table where we ate, plugged it in and then typed the words above…although he left out the “Edmund Burke” part. Apparently satisfied that the typewriter was working as it should, he turned the machine off and headed back out the door.
I was intrigued. My dad hadn’t said a word throughout the whole process. I worked my way to the table and looked over the machine–I’d never seen one before. And then…I read the words. I’d never seen them before, either.
They were powerful.
I thought my dad had just made them up…and I was impressed. To this day, I never see or hear those words without being reminded of my father.
My dad was never able to attend college, but education was extremely important to him. I’d love to have a dollar for every sentence uttered in our home that started with “When you finish college…” He was setting the ground rules early for his children–and he wasn’t going to be satisfied with just doing that. My dad was determined to improve himself. I remember coming in to find him reading an English texbook he’d picked up from somewhere and asking my mother, “WHY in the world would Daddy be interested in just reading a textbook?!” Her answer surprised me: “He’s determined to speak English as well as he can.” I was taken aback just a bit…I mean, English (albeit Southern English–that’s English with a Southern accent!) was the only thing I’d ever heard spoken in our home and I’d never noticed him having trouble with it before!
Actually he didn’t have trouble speaking English at all–“Southern” or otherwise. Dad was a salesman and he wanted to make sure that he was able to communicate with his customers in ways that helped his sales–and his family. His self-imposed English lessons were designed to help him fit in no matter who he spoke with and it worked. My dad can talk to anybody and he’s got stories for DAYS, as we say around here.
In addition to his stories, my dad has lived a life that backed up that quote I first attributed to him. He was always a hard worker and he has a huge heart. Our home was often filled with family that included actual relatives along with the many foster-children who came to stay for varying times and, usually, a few neighborhood kids, as well. We weren’t rich, but I lost count of the number of times the front doorbell would ring during a meal and my father would answer it and return with an odd smile on his face…to which my mother would always ask, “Ok. How much did you give them and why?” She wasn’t angry, she just knew there were a host of mouths to feed where we were. Dad would smile and say something like, “Well, honey, they just needed a little bit to…”
Don’t get the impression that my dad is a pushover. He’s not. He was just living out his faith–and that quote!–to the best of his ability. He’s still doing that. He still works at something every day. He processes deer during the hunting season and I’ve been told by several people in the area that he does such a good job at it that when his processing days are over, they are through eating deer meat! He uses a good portion of that processing time to think and to pray…and a lot of folks benefit from that in more ways than you might imagine. Though he doesn’t make a big deal of it, there are widows whose freezers are full and others who enjoy the end results of his labor because he thought they might need a bit extra.
They say that values are more often “caught than taught.” That might be the case in a lot of places, but my dad was determined to do the teaching just to make sure we “caught” it. He taught my Sunday School class for years when I was growing up and I never doubted that what he told us there was true because he lived it out in front of us every single day. He’s been doing that for a lifetime and that’s pretty impressive when you look at it in light of today’s standards. My dad turned 72 this past Friday. It doesn’t seem quite possible. I used to think that was “old”…and I’ve never thought of my dad quite like that. I wonder if I ever really will.
Your challenge for the weekend is a little different this time: Take some time to really look at your life. Think about what people might see when you don’t know that they’re looking. Are there areas you need to work on to be a better person, a better family member, a better friend or employee…or a better representation of Christ? Relationships are key in this life–and there’s not a single one that couldn’t be better if Jesus was really in charge of every area of your life! If you’re not sure how to make that happen, send me your contact information and I’ll be glad to share more with you. For now, do a little self-review this weekend and see how your life stacks up to Edmund Burke’s statement. Although God is the only One who can truly overcome evil, He often uses us to do so right where we live. Are you doing your part?
“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke (and my dad)