Chaos: Suffering, Part 4 (Scholar’s Compass)

Mark Eckel continues his series on suffering. Visit Part 3Part 2, or the series introduction and Part 1 here


“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Desmond Tutu

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.” Albert Einstein

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” Abraham Lincoln

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

“Seek good and not evil . . . Hate evil, and love good.” Amos 5.14-15


Which way will you run?

Smoke and fire rise in the distance. The rumble of explosions ripple through the air. Screams and cries ping through the confusion.

Our first urge is to run from the chaos.

But then the camera refocuses on a group of Marines running toward the destruction. The voice over says, “There are a few who move toward the sound of chaos.”

First responders to chaos.

The Marine Corps Commercial reminded me of Edmund Burke’s “little platoons”.

Then I read “Running Toward the Pain” by Matthew Loftus and this great line,

Broken cities need those minor leaders who cultivate, in their own corners, a community’s moral formation.

Running toward the pain. First responders to chaos.

Amos 5 shouts our responsibility:

Seek good, and not evil . . . Hate evil, and love good (Amos 5.14-15)

But the question is “HOW does one ‘hate the evil’ and ‘love the good’ in this culture?” (5.15).

First responders to chaos, running toward the pain means:

  1. If we see evil and turn away, we have only become part of the evil.
  2. Building relationships with others opens the door to discuss pain.
  3. Strengthening small group, grass-roots institutions is where the battle against chaos begins.
  4. We do not allow anyone’s pain to be “censored,” left out of public view.
  5. When we silence others through “shaming” their ideas, perspectives, or approaches we help continue the pain.

We combat the evil Amos excoriated by protecting those whose lives are in danger. We love the good by attending to the needs of others in pain. We are defending those who cannot defend themselves. We are calling out the bullies of this world by speaking out against their brutality. We are finding ways to push back chaos by shining a light in the darkness. We are running toward the violence when the alarms are sounded.

And maybe that’s the big idea, the answer to the question “HOW do we hate evil and love the good?” We show up.

Or maybe the Marine Corps asks the best question: will you run toward the chaos?


  1. How do we persuade people to respond to others’ pain? How do we enlist the voice of the powerful, the privileged, and the well positioned to help eliminate chaos in any situation?
  2. How do we earn the right to be heard in the lives of those in pain?
  3. How do we become committed to helping others? How do we give it our all in helping others?
  4. The horrors of our world go viral. We can only do so much to reach out to all the pain in the world. We cry out to God knowing we cannot attend to every horror. How do we limit our participation, choosing certain areas of chaos with which to engage?


Dear Lord. Direct my mind by Your Spirit to the people, the community, the cause, the chaos to which I and my gifts may help. May my spirit always be softened toward suffering wherever I see it. May I know to whom, how and when I should respond with what you’ve given me to help. Amen.

Scholars-Compass-image-40x40Note: Part of both the Scholar’s Compass series and a series on suffering by Mark Eckel. Part 4. See the series introduction and Part 1 here, or visit Part 2 or Part 3.

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Mark Eckel

Dr. Mark Eckel is adjunct professor for various institutions, President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video), teaches weekly at his church (video) and writes weekly at his website

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