With many other words Peter warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” - Acts 2:40 (NIV)
In Season 3 of the Coen Brothers’ series Fargo, the chief villain says, “The problem is not that there is evil in the world. The problem is that there is good. Because, otherwise, who would care?”
Evil is happy when good keeps its distance. That goodness exists is inconvenient to evil, which is bent on making no one care. But the existence of good in the world makes us care. And caring is what will save us “from this corrupt generation.”
Ours is the generation of a news cycle designed for short attention spans, unashamed public bigotry, and official violence, all played out in real time for all to see. But if that’s all we consume, if it’s all we’re watching, it could easily seem that there’s no good in the world. Despair creeps up—and in. Into our souls, shrouding us in apathy. Because the villain is right: without good, who cares?
But by some miracle of grace, we do care, don’t we? We care, so we know good exists. We care, so we know evil is not alone in the world. It doesn’t have free rein, it hasn’t won, and never will. As long as we care, because we care, we know we are saved from our generation’s despair and apathy, and the whole world can be, too.
Every year, Advent asks us to watch: to pay attention to the world closely enough and patiently enough to notice that there’s more than evil in it. More than despair. To watch long enough and closely enough to see the good, to welcome its continual arrival among us, to ground our hope in its grace, to name it for others in testimony of word and deed. And to dedicate our lives to enlarging it, even suffering for it, caring deeply and with all our hearts.
O Come, O God, with a good I can never ignore.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.