In a 1961 speech, President John F. Kennedy stated, “As the great parliamentarian Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’”
Burke never said this, but whoever did, it’s true.
The news media is saturated with stories of people who are self-serving or greedy or power-hungry or all of the above. So many of them are also prospering, leading us to believe that evil is indeed triumphing. But consider these few, random examples of the ways that good people — those who felt compelled to speak out against corruption, injustice, and harmful practices — are at work.
In the U.S. alone, between 15 and 26 million people demonstrated over George Floyd’s death beneath a white police officer’s knee. That’s a lot of good people who saw injustice and protested against it.
In September 2021, crowds cheered as the city of Richmond, Virginia, removed its statue of General Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army in an uprising against the U.S. government to protect and perpetuate the institution of slavery. For 130 years, the towering statue had been a prominent reminder of white oppression. All over the United States, monuments, memorials, symbols, and other reminders of racism are being dismantled.
In 2021, people all over the world participated in marches, rallies, and acts of non-violent civil disobedience to protest global leaders’ failure to combat destructive climate change.
Courageous whistleblowers, such as Frances Haugen and the technology experts interviewed in the documentary The Social Dilemma, are exposing the ways that social media employs artificial intelligence and algorithms to manipulate people, resulting in the spread of misinformation, the promotion of hate, and the increase in mental health disorders among our youth.
Pope Francis has taken instituted a number of significant measures to combat clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups by church leaders.
Despite the pandemic, voter turnout in the 2020 general election was the highest it’s been in the 21st century, indicating most Americans’ ongoing belief that democracy and citizenship are an important means for addressing society’s issues.
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Even better if that small group grows into a larger one.