Mr. Root: … Just how dangerous is he?

Carson Wells: Compared to what?  The Bubonic plague? … He’s a psychopathic killer, but so what.  There’s plenty of them around.

Dialogue from No County for Old Men

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We like to think of corruption as something that applies to institutions, – a trait, or state of being, that belongs to an inanimate object or others, a class of people, but not us individually.

We cannot personalize corruption and contemplate it can, and often does, lay claim to our soul.  We prefer not to think of ourselves as standing in a crowd that shouts: “Crucify Him!”

Nor can we see that in silence and misshapen belief we are often corrupted.  Or that the shelter we often seek is ideology: a way of comforting ourselves rather than see who we actually are or what surrounds us, a system of belief that can manifest our corruption and flirtation with evil frequently wrapped in seemingly good and benign ideas, words and plans.

It is hard for us to see we are corrupted out of the fear of being corrupt – fallen, in need of faith and redemption, God and mercy.

Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.  For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead.

Ps 143:2-3

We all know people who see in the world only what they want, what they can “handle.” They are not the bounty-hunter, Carson Wells, who sees the world as it is, not as he wishes it were.  Wells sees in Anton Chigurh, the corrupted, heartless, asocial, thoroughly evil, savage killer he will chase, a psychotic Chigurh who kills in absolute, doubtless certainty.

In Wells’ few words he offers this lesson: the most certain among us can be the asocial, psychotic.

Carl Sagan observes that when people are bambozzled long enough they reject evidence of being deceived, that they no longer seek truth because it is too painful to accept that they have been wrong.

Sagan also notes that once taken in by a charlatan we rarely get ourselves back. This: a useful caution about mass culture and the care one must give to belief.

Lest you think innocence is the answer, the highly-regarded psychotherapist Jim Hillman sees that evil is attracted to innocence and that innocence even prompts evil.

Life requires that we see all that is before us.  To do so is an act of faith.

The stakes are high.  See and have faith.

Shalom.

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