Old Flannery Coat

The porch steps were slick with rain this morning, and I realized I knew people whose first reaction to someone slipping on them would not be sadness — let alone to help — but rather to laugh.

These are the sociopaths-in-training.

These are the men and women I pray get their asses kicked like Al Capone voted: early and often. And if not the former, then at least the latter.

It may surprise you (or you may not care at all) that scripture backs me up on this. Saint Paul directly counsels that someone who is willfully evil be left to his own sins, outside the protection of the Church.

It may surprise you less (and you may care more) that art and literature back me up, too. What else could Flannery O’Connor have meant those many moments in her comments, letters — especially her fiction — when the casually and chronically cruel get their comeuppance?

It may surprise you not at all to realize that most of us enable this behavior. We permit it, we passively participate in it, we promote it. We do this by what we say about it, what we don’t say against it, and by not walking away.

I’m not looking for vigilantes. A little healthful disgust would be a start. Maybe a few of us could develop physically and spiritually into some tolerable ass-kickers.

Because when people glee in evil, the more freedom they experience, the more we give them, the more dangerous they become.

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