“There are none so lost as those who have misled themselves.” That is a quote from Richard Fernandez of the Belmont Club from his article “Why We Flight“. That is not a misspelling. It got me to thinking and that leads to making connections and eventually it led me back to the events of this week.
Earlier this year I wrote a Lenten mediation on lying, in which I said:
However, the more insidious kind of deceit is when you have lied to yourself and convinced yourself of the need, if not nobleness of your efforts. Sure, you may be stretching the truth, embellishing for effect, using hyperbole as if it were real, but it is for a good cause.
Lying to yourself, misleading yourself, self-deception. All of these are the result of choices. Sometimes many little choices bring us to the point of deluding ourselves, sometimes it is one big choice. But, however the crossover point occurs, it was at some point the result of a choice where we decide to embrace the lie.
No matter what demons Cho Seung-Hui had to fight, what pressures assaulted him, there came a moment when he chose to embrace the delusion, to let it become his world. His final acts were the in service to that delusion and he justified his later choices by the lies he already had embraced. There are always, let me say that again, there are always consequences to our choices, especially when they are to embrace the lie.
It was a soul saddening moment to watch the consequences of Cho’s choices unfold, both for him and those whose destinies he sealed that morning. Out of that poignant sadness, some heroism arose, one example of which I wrote about yesterday. In moments of great evil, there is also great grace. Paul noted that in Romans.
…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20b-21
In the end, it all comes down to a choice. Joshua knew it so clearly that day as he faced the nation of Israel at the river Jordon. The “good” thief knew it as he chose to petition Jesus in his dying moments on the cross. Throughout history Christian martyrs have known it, that the road to life was choosing death over dishonor.
It is a question we get asked over and over, “Choose this day who you will serve.” Bob Dylan knew it, when he wrote his demanding song, Gotta Serve Somebody.” The chorus is straight to the point.
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Cho made his choice; Professor Librescu made his; we make ours. Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30:19 to “Choose life…” That same moment stands before us all. It is time to choose.