Catching up this morning on news and noted how the coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton was suspended for a year. The cause was the practice of raising locker room bounties in which the saints pooled money to reward players for injuring opponents, including very large gifts for injuries that necessitated an opponent being carted off on a stretcher. The defensive coordinator who organized the bounty system was suspended indefinitely.
The point here is not to demonize men like Sean Payton. The moral lessons remain clear and transparent. He screwed up, period. It is valuable though to offer a candid observation about human nature.
We live within a culture very uncomfortable even discussing the possibility that maybe within all our hearts lurk darkness. And within all our thoughts the ability to rationalize darkness. That is true for me, for you, for everyone. But we don’t much like talking about that. Even as a Pastor, I shy away from reading biblical passages about our sinful nature. It sounds archaic. ”What will the new person think if I don’t give a message of pure happiness and light?”
However we need to own up to the darkness that is part of the human condition. It should give us pause as well when we look at Robert Bayles, a soldier accused of killing 16 civilians, Deryl Desmond, convicted of a murderous hate crime, or Mohammed Murah, dead after shooting Jewish children in France. These men gave into that darkness and no doubt, in some twisted way justified it.
”Light of my heart, do not let my darkness speak…” God gives us the power to actually say “no” – to move beyond the darkness into the light. That is never an easy process. Even with these men, to dismiss them as rogues is dangerous – giving us an easy answer. Their actions however evidence broader parts of the human condition. Accountability means looking at the darkness for what it is – darkness. Not dismissing it. Not justifying it. Owning it. And learning to really say “no.”