Most of the time, we think of sins as things we do; they’re nasty little verbs. I stabbed the man for talking back to me. I swore at the geriatric because he was slow. I got drunk after work because all of my other coping mechanisms seem to be broken. I stole the Rajaratna Ruby then lied about it because I wouldn’t fare well in prison- my stature and boyish good looks work against me in a setting like that. I think that’s why so many people think that Christians are no fun- we’ve blacklisted some of humanity’s favorite pastimes as sins, at least, within particular contexts. These are the sins of commission, which come to mind most readily when in a discussion of iniquity.
We cannot forget the sins of omission, that is, the sins of inaction. I’ll go out on a limb and venture that the most common sin of inaction is when people forget to tithe, but the only evidence to support this notion is my eight years of listening to pastors preach about giving. Next, I’m sure is the lack of volunteering in a church’s activities.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing– Edmund Burke
I’m not a Seinfeld fan, at all. His type of humor is entirely lost on me. I’d like to believe it’s because I’m too young to get it, but I’m having my doubts. That said, I recall seeing that last episode of his sitcom and I was definitely pleased with how it went. In the middle of Jerry getting a big break about this ridiculous show that really described what was coming to an end, Jerry and friends found themselves standing on the side of the road, watching a man get his car stolen at gunpoint, while doing nothing to help him during his time of need. That moron Kramer even filmed it.
As the story goes, Seinfeld’s posse get arrested for their lack of helpful effort in during the man’s time of need. They went through a lengthy trial wherein old enemies and flings from the show testify against them, indicating that this whole sitcom was about humans with terrible character (aren’t they all?). In the end, the main people end up in prison- a point I was thrilled with.
Honestly, this story was just a different ending to what Jesus said in Luke 10, when he told the parable of the good Samaritan. The story touches on Hebrew racism against the Samaritans, legalistic, unhelpful clergy and explained that even if we aren’t the ones who inflict harm on someone else, our inaction is nearly as bad. We’re no better than a few creeps from a nineties sitcom.
Both Jesus’ story and the one that ended one of the most awful shows ever allowed on television carry with them a sense of proximity- the Priest, Levite, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer all saw the problem and did nothing. This is easy if we think about men and women on the side of the road with signs, asking for change, or if we pass someone who clearly doesn’t know how to change a flat tire. The scary thing though, is that our world is shrinking some of our actions reach beyond our line of sight. Media informs us of terrible things happening in what seems to be nearly every country around the globe. We’re forced to consider what it means when we don’t recycle, buy goods made by children in a sweatshop, or how we might be passively contributing to only God knows what evil and if one isn’t careful, they could definitely become overwhelmed to the point of apathy.