This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
The people who read these pages hail from dozens of faiths, including Judaism and Islam, and many others are nonbelievers. They don’t look here for homilies.
But from any perspective, the commemoration of Easter – the most sacred of Christian holy days – is a deep and rich tradition.
Even the new breed of combative atheists would acknowledge (if ruefully) that belief in the resurrection of Jesus has had sweeping effects on history.
We’d like to think just about everyone could buy into one assumption implicit in Easter: that mankind is capable of redemption.
The human race can be a vicious, dishonest, self-centered, out-of-control species. We’re at our worst when reaching for power, wealth or revenge, and we spend a lot of time reaching for all three.
Elections are the gentlest way of transferring power from one party to another, but they can be uncommonly nasty. This year’s presidential contests don’t seem any uglier than elections in years past; still, they’ve been rife with raw malice.
That’s not just the fault of the candidates. They use attack ads against each other because attack ads work. Many ordinary voters seem willing to believe the worst about candidates, even knowing that the attacks come from political enemies. That doesn’t speak well of us.
Outside the democratic process, power struggles only get more brutal. In Afghanistan, for example, the Taliban fights fanatically to re-establish a tyranny that condoned – among other atrocities – throwing acid in the faces of girls who dared to attend school.
Plenty of people are brave, decent and good-hearted. Too many aren’t.
Just when we thought we couldn’t be shocked by human greed, along comes a Lakewood police officer secretly looting a fund created for the spouses and children of four fellow officers slain in the line of duty.
Just when we thought the Army was doing a good job keeping My Lai-style murderers out of the ranks, along comes a rogue “kill team” deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord – then a horrifying slaughter of 17 Afghan villagers reputedly carried out by another JBLM soldier.
Christianity teaches that humans tend to be a sorry lot in need of fixing. So do other traditions that take a cold-eyed view of human nature. Easter says that the fixing is possible.
There’s lots of evidence of that: countless people who’ve wrestled their personal demons and found their better selves.
There’s hardly a better example than Cecil Leading Horse, an alcoholic who – when a News Tribune reporter first told his story 11 years ago – had cost the public more than $2 million in emergency services and vain treatment. If anyone was on the fast track to self-destruction, it was Cecil.
Then Cecil turned up again in The News Tribune last year – sober since 2008, leader of an alcoholics’ recovery group, a truly impressive man. Jaws dropped.
It’s a story of possibility, rebirth, humility and dignity. A good story to remember next time the ugly side of human nature shows its face.