Article and Photography by Curtis Beaird
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
I always thought the valley of the shadow was a dim to dismal place wrapped in an empty silence. I was wrong. The valley of the shadow is a noisy place. Shrill voices scream half-truths at us while soft voices would seduce us into a deeper darkness.
Some voices shout while others whisper. All would have our soul. There is evil in the valley. Some believers think that phrase was simply David’s way of expressing hard times. The believer would be wrong.
If you plan to move through the valley, there are a couple things, in addition to acknowledging the presence of God, necessary for safe passage.
1. Beware of the clichés you believe.
We have all heard it. "Vote for the lesser of two evils."
Without realizing it, we use the empty rationale of the lesser of two evils to underwrite a lame choice. For some odd reason, we lack the courage to admit to ourselves that our beloved system is broken, that corruption in high places is real; and that yes, we are being conned.
Somewhere in the recess of our thought, we know the con is on, but we cannot emotionally or spiritually tolerate a conscious-level discussion on the subject.
To manage the tension, and keep our flagging hope in a failing system alive, we make excuses for the candidate of our choice and demonize the other.
Instead of demanding better from those who would propose to lead us, we turn the process into a melodrama, and reduce the presidential race to political mud wrestling. We love the fake fight, even when we are the losers. Frightened and angry people seldom make good decisions. They do make good victims.
Passive citizens wandering through the valley are easy to manage.
We rarely consider that this mess is, in part, of our own making. It never occurs to us that blind faith in anything, especially a political system, will turn it into an idol that will drain us of all that matters.
Our solution: Hide behind the hollow assumption that we can’t do anything about it, and continue in either our “give up” position of low expectations, or drift along in a fairytale of political hope.
Voting for the lesser of two evils is a confession of failure.
It is a thoughtless cliché that saves us from dealing with the reality of the situation. Evil wins.
2. Beware of the evil you diminish.
The phrase “vote for the lesser of two evils” is a cliché that trivializes evil. Without realizing it, a believer actually denies evil. There is no such thing as a “lesser evil” no more than there is the possibility of being a little bit pregnant; unless of course, evil is not a part of your faith system.………in which case the 23rd Psalm has limited value.
If we give it some thought, saying, “I’m voting for the lesser of two evils,” it means that I place my hope in evil. Other than its denial, there are few things that will strengthen evil more than placing our hope in it. Hear it again,
“I am going to vote for the lesser of two evils?” Hmmmm........
The way through is to follow the way of David. When in the valley, he assumed he would encounter evil. He did not rename it or deny its existence. In trusting God, he had no fear of it. But, he in no way chose evil as a way to hope.
Psalm 23 (King James Version)The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Copyright 2012, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.