“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
You don’t have to be pollyannish to believe that good always triumphs over evil.
Oh, sure, it may take a long time for the good to win. And all the ends of life won’t tie themselves up neatly. But most evil is an attempt to thwart reality. And reality is not something to be thwarted.
This is true on a personal scale. Liars end up being discovered. Thieves end up being stolen from. Murderers lose their lives. Injustice collapses in on itself.
It’s true at a macro scale, too. Communism was an attempt to thwart self-interest, a pretense that a society could be built on violence and sacrifice and the utopian dreams of a small group of intellectuals. Fascism was the lie that an amorphous, invisible concept (the state, the volk) was more important than flesh and blood people (plus all the lies of communism, for good measure). If something else doesn’t destroy these things, they just end up destroying themselves in the end.
Evil like this always fails. The universe always restores its own balance, and reality has its own inexorable sense of justice.
We can learn something from this about our own place in the world: it doesn’t come down to us to determine whether or not the good wins out in the end. The world will be saved whether we participate or not.
But there is a choice for us nonetheless.
It’s very much up for grabs whether justice comes in our lifetime. We get to decide whether that justice comes sooner or later. We can decide whether justice comes with healing or with pain. We can decide whether we will bring justice or injustice to others.
We get to participate in the unfolding story of how exactly good triumphs over evil. Or we can choose to delay the inevitable.
That’s the nature of our choice.