In The Plague (1947), Albert Camus (1913-60) describes the ebb and flow of a fictional epidemic in the actual city of Oran, French Algeria. Figuratively, he describes the ebb and flow of evil, including falsehood, in any society at some time and every society at one time or another.
At the beginning of the novel, the plague has just appeared in the form of otherwise discreet rats suddenly appearing publicly to die of some mysterious ailment. Coincidentally, a reporter employed by a daily paper in Paris just arrived to investigate the conditions of people living in Oran’s Arab districts.
This reporter started by asking a local doctor for his opinion. Before answering, the doctor asked him if he would be able to write the shocking truth. The reporter answered that he would be able to write the truth—but only up to the point when it became shocking. The doctor refused to answer any more questions.
The language he [the doctor] used was that of a man who was sick and tired of the world he lived in—though he had much liking for his fellow men—and had resolved, for his part, to have no truck with injustice and compromises with the truth (The Plague, translated by Stuart Gilbert, Vintage International, 1992, p. 12).
We know that there are two ways we may live in this world. We may follow Jesus on the difficult path of freedom which is based on truth, expressed through love, and leads to life. In contrast, we may follow the world’s false gods who bully, bribe, and deceive us into following them on the popular highway of power which is based on falsehood, expressed through indifference and violence, and ends in despair, destruction, and death.
The good doctor knew that compromises with the truth always led quickly enough to indifference expressed through injustice. May Jesus bless us with that same wisdom today.
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