The Worst Enemy
We live in a society whose politics often seem to be fuelled by anger at one's real and imagined enemies. Let's play the game and see if it is possible to identify the greatest enemy of all.
The worst enemy of a nation is not a government that cannot be trusted, nor is an opposition that never proposes, but only opposes--and does so in a destructive and frighteningly incompetent rhetoric.
It is not a government that cannot be believed about taxation and the constitution. It is not a politician with nothing behind the smiling face, who fails to propose any new ideas or offer leadership. Nor is it the one who writes speeches or letters to the editor filled with the most elementary factual errors.
The worst enemy is not even the twin evils of Marxism or Fascism, even though both have robbed millions of their freedom or their lives, in the vain pursuit of enforced ideological purity.
The worst enemy is not racism, even though in its cancerous wake it has left more hatreds, wars, and deaths than any human passion.
Nor is it concentrations of wealth or extreme poverty--even when most people seem powerless either to lift themselves up or lend a hand to another.
The worst enemy is not garbage dumps, oil wells, highways, or racetracks in ones back yard. Nor is it cultic religions, even when their followers are prepared to fight to the death to force their beliefs on others.
The worst enemy is not even intolerance. Though the bad is intolerant of the good, the good must also be intolerant of evil, oppose it and root it out. Light does not tolerate darkness and right does not tolerate wrong, any more than God tolerates sin. Just so, good management bankrupts bad and efficient workers send the inefficient to the unemployment line. Even the most deliberately upside-down laws cannot maintain economic nonsense forever.
What is really the worst enemy? How about ignorance?
It is ignorance that makes politicians and other leaders believe they are above the people and laws they are supposed to serve. Ignorance allows them to get away with it. Ignorance is the tool of both the unthinking follower of opinion polls and of the tyrant. It keeps governments in power long after they have lost the will and the ability to govern. It encourages professional opposers and demonstrators to continue mindlessly throwing sand in the gears long after they have become irrelevant.
It is willful ignorance of others that leads to racial and language divisions, for racism is founded on the absurd premise that being slightly different implies either superiority or inferiority--this in the face of the obvious fact that the only race is the human race. Travel, good communications, and the study of other languages can help prevent hatreds from arising, but it is mortally difficult to erase ignorant prejudice once it gains a foothold in a dark mind.
Ignorance keeps people poor, even leading them to believe that the rich are better than they. A greater ignorance pretends that sufficient money thrown at the poverty problem will make it go away. It doesn't; it just creates well-funded poverty.
Ignorance of their creator God binds people in fear to both prejudice and to superstitious myths. But the very worst thing is that ignorance of God binds lost men and women to their sin and its consequences, not just for this life, but for an eternity in the hell of torment and separation from God.
Knowledge is the only way out of the traps ignorance sets; those who take the time to learn the truth banish ignorance forever. Think about it the next time you pass by a polling booth, a library, a school or a church. No one can afford ignorance, especially of God.
Originally published in a different form in Through a Glass, Darkly 1990 04 24