It’s important to recognize that this applies not just to the issues we immediately recognize as evil, but to realities we resist recognizing as such.
We have a distressing tendency in America to decide that one issue or set of issues matters so much more than another issue or set of issues, we have the right to dismiss those others. It happens on both sides of the political divide. I would argue this is how we become people whose political affiliations (of whatever color), rather than our faith, end up becoming our primary identity.
I don’t think any of us intend to put politics before faith, but it’s really easy to fall into the trap. I’ve pointed that finger outward a lot in recent years, but you know what they say about pointing fingers: for every one you point at someone else, four are pointed back at you. In other words, I’ve been wrestling with this reality in myself, too.
Surely we can all acknowledge that America has been greatly weakened by the competing rigid extremisms that have been growing for the last twenty years. Extremisms that refuse to seek common ground and build from there. Extremisms so committed to the righteousness of that refusal that gradually, they cease to see there is any common ground.
But I would argue that the “either-or” mentality weakens the Church as well. Because when we dismiss an entire swath of issues as somehow less important, we look like hypocrites to a world we’re supposed to be evangelizing.
And they’re not wrong to think so.
When we decide to pick and choose what injustices matter, we thumb our nose at God. We imply that God isn’t big enough to deal with all the issues, so we have to decide for him which ones are worth fighting. We thus dismiss the suffering of everyone touched by every issue we didn’t choose. Is it any wonder that our efforts at evangelization aren’t successful?
Finally–to most people who are just along for the ride on these posts, it may not have really registered, but the breadth of topics covered in Evangelii Gaudium really underscores the spaghetti-bowl effect. This document, which is titled “the JOY” of the Gospel,” has wandered very far from the topic of joy itself. It underscores that to really spread Gospel joy, we have to embrace the whole Gospel, in all its difficult, messy glory.