everyday evil: trading safety for conspiracy…

This morning I received an email from a reader, soliciting advice from this community about a family matter deeply entwined with current events. I have permission to share it, and invite your replies. Your personal experiences, thoughts and advice are welcome…


Dear Gathering,

I learned last night that my cousin, a dear childhood friend, has convinced his father, living in a nursing home and nearing 90, not to get a coronavirus vaccine. I won’t say more for fear of identifying them, but suffice it to say that my cousin is a “Christian leader” and his father was a beloved figure in our childhood. 

I had hints that my friend was in deep when he parroted the lie that the “election isn’t over” on social media, urging his followers to believe the flat out lies being peddled by Trump and the Republican party, but I didn’t dream he would go this far. 

Today, our nation will reprise an unspeakable evil in the Senate chamber. Even though I dread it, I know I must watch and bear witness. But bearing witness to the smaller, everyday acts of evil in my personal life is even harder. It shakes my sense of what I’ve always thought to be true. The audacity of this friend—a Christian leader, to trade his father’s safety for a conspiracy theory is breathtaking. 

I want to say I’ve always known my friend to be a good person. I want to say he’s lived a righteous life. I have known these things to be true. But I must check myself at this moment in history, as this has been said of so many “leaders” who continue to promote lies and falsehoods.

For African Americans, there is good reason to distrust the U.S. medical establishment—the history is heinous and long. I know of no such justification if you’re White like me. And, may I add, it is one thing to avoid the vaccine yourself, but another to goad your elderly father—who lives in a nursing home—to mimic your behavior.

Today, as we watch history unfold, could you take a moment to advise me? Could we all advise each other on how to respond to the evil that is near at hand?