I came across an interesting passage from Isaiah (Isaiah 33:14-15) in the canticle for today’s Morning Prayer. According to KJV (emphasis added):
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil
The official translation for The Liturgy of the Hours has it (again, emphasis added):
On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious; “Who of us can live with the consuming fire? Who of us can live with the everlasting flames?” He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil.
(The Liturgy of the Hours. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 1976, volume II, p. 1424.)
This is sort of confusing. Why is it good to stop one’s ears from hearing of bloodshed? Are we not obligated to hear of bloodshed so that we can boldly speak up on behalf of victims of violence, so that we can admonish the oppressor and, if need be, end the oppressor’s evil acts? Isn’t stopping our ears to ignore such acts? It seems almost the opposite: ignoring news of bloodshed makes us shirk our responsibilities to defend the weak and oppressed.