Dorothy Sayers observes, “In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair… the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”
The absence of passion in the face of evil explains why evil is so virulent in the world. Such a listless existence is no way for a good person to live. Winston Churchill said it best, “The malice of the wicked is reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.”
In terms of biblical theology, God’s ethos never occurs without pathos, as Heschel correctly observes. When the biblical prophets condemn injustice, they in turn mirror God’s own concern about societal evolution. Far from being a Deity that merely spends eternity reflecting upon His own Divine nature, the God of Scriptures incessantly demands ethical awareness and calls upon all of us to discover ultimate meaning by participation in the world’s redemption. In the Judaic consciousness, God’s role as Liberator is more important than His role as Creator. The One Who redeemed our ancestors, likewise expects us to emulate this role; paradoxically, the human hand resembles the Divine hand–not physically, but in terms of functionality.
Each person has a distinctive role to play and contribute toward this goal. We cannot be good by simply avoiding evil; indifference toward human suffering only compounds it–whether we realize it or not. When a world stands begging for help, there can be only one ethical and spiritual response–Hineni–Here I am; I am ready to make a difference.
God expects all of us to embody the passion of liberation.