Listen to this: "In order that Evil shall triumph, it is sufficient that Good Men do nothing."
I cannot remember who said this [Edmond Burke], but I am going to say it again, and think, this time, what it means.
"In order that Evil shall triumph, it is sufficient that Good Men do nothing."
There are many more Good Men or Men of Goodwill in the worId than Bad Men, so why is it that the Bad Men, and Women, and Ideas, so often triumph? Why? Because the Good Men do nothing. Most of the Good Men are too self-centred or too afraid, to stand up for the right against the wrong, and you hear them make excuses. "It's none of my business," they say. "There's nothing I can do. Notfiing I can do would make any difference." Excuses. Feeble excuses. What do you mean, nothing you can do would make any difference? Everything you do makes a difference. Everything you do and say and think, makes a difference to everyone around you. You cannot escape from this. Whether you want to or not, you have an influence on those around you, and that influence will be either good or bad; it cannot be neutral. And you are responsible for it. The good things you do, you are responsible for. The bad things you do, you are responsible for, and you are responsible for the good things which you fail to do and which you ought to do. In order that Evil shall triumph, it is sufficient that Good Men do nothing.
You and I are Good Men. At least we are fairly good. Or at any rate we are men of good will: we mean well.
Mean well. What is the good of meaning well? It is not enough to mean well: you have got to do well. If you come to a fork in the road and you know that the left-hand road leads over a precipice and the right-hand one to your hotel, it is no good saying, when you wake up in hospital and all your friends in the car are dead, "Oh, I meant to take the right road. But I took the wrong one, it was just too bad." It is not enough to mean well; you have got to go and do it, and you have got to do it right. In order that Evil shall triumph in the world, it is sufficient that men with good intentions do nothing.
There are so many men of good intentions in the world that, if all the people who believe in goodness, in peace, in honesty, in fair dealing and in compassion, were to get up and take their strength and courage and go all out for these things, the world would be transformed, most of the evil and suffering and sorrow and dishonesty and cruelty in the world would disappear and a new era of happiness and harmony and goodness would be ushered in. In order that Evil shall triumph, it is sufficient that Good Men do nothing. We must never allow this to happen. We must do everything we can to prevent it. We must stand up at all times for the right against the wrong, so that good shall triumph, and evil deeds and evil thoughts shall have no power over us any more.