I am about to broach a controversial topic. The events that have been occurring lately – shootings at schools and movie theatres…the release and popularity of movies like Zero Dark Thirty and Django and Les Miserables and Argo… and even Silver Linings Playbook ( …just to name a few) have made me pause to think. I am extremely conflicted about this subject… who is good and who is evil? But I always come back to the belief that I am not God and that only God knows what will become of any of us.
Let’s consider the child who has been indoctrinated to know nothing about “others” but hate… to know nothing except what he is told and what is expected of him…and what is expected is for him to hurt “others” or if given the opportunity kill…maybe even detonate a bomb. He has been told that God will reward him. He knows nothing else because he has been designed to hate the “other”. He is a tool, a machine…but he has a mother that loves him and a little brother he wrestles and a sister that he teases and watches out for. He is really just like any other boy – he goes to school, he plays sports with friends, he worships, he eats, he laughs, he sleeps…he just hates because he has been told that is the way for him. He knows no other way. Do you think I am talking about a Muslim child? or a Taliban child? or an Iraqi or Afghani child? Forty years ago you thought think I am discussing an East German or Soviet Union child. Sixty years ago it might have been German or Italian or Japanese. What if I was to tell you I wasn’t talking about people from another country… or a different culture or a different religion? What if I told you those things happened not so very long ago just down the road from me…and probably still do.I live in the South. Lynchings and bombings took place – right here in Alabama… not across the ocean. The “other” lived in the same town. And now there are still “others” and the violence is perpetuated in gang crimes, and hate crimes against homosexuals or anybody who is different can be a target. Sadly, people hate “others”…on a grand scale (Israeli versus Arabs…North Koreans versus South Koreans…Shites versus Sunnis… etc. etc.) and on a small-scale. Do you hate? Do you have an enemy?
So what about that child? Not the one that fights side by side with his Taliban father , uncle and brother, or the other groups that see us Americans as the “enemy” the “other” and wants to kill us…. I am talking about the child that learns to hate women and gays and disabled people and minorities? The child that was smacked around or ignored, criticized or could never do anything right EXCEPT when they were acting like the racist, sexist people around them. The child who saw their mother treated worse than the family dog and heard the derogatory names used to describe people of color or who were different in any way. What can we expect when that child grows up? That they will know that their experience was horrific and inexcusable and terribly small-minded? Do we really think that child will be anything other than a complete product of his environment? If one day he becomes “enlightened” that would truly be a miracle! But when he isn’t enlightened and he perpetuates the same old same old same old, do we cut him any slack? He didn’t know any better. We make excuses for his bad behavior…or we are disgusted and consider him a lost cause. What about when he uses violence? Is he mentally ill because he hates? It he mentally ill because he has never been taught to value others? Likely he would never be considered ill at all. Ignorant? Yes. Evil? Maybe. What if his hate takes him to the next level and he decides he is doing the world a favor to rid it from “others?” Others have no value after all…right?
Does that person have value…The one who hates? Should he die? Should he be somehow removed from society before he “takes” somebody else out? Should we give every human being on this planet a test to see if they have compassion and love… or the capacity for sincerely caring and feeling…? Unfortunately the really evil people would figure out a way to pass the test. That is how it works. What do we do with the people that society considers too dangerous to live? Too evil to exist? Should we go ahead and send a drone to blow them up? And if our aim hits more than our intended target do we just say, “and sorry btw” for the few extras killed in the process. Mistakes happen. It is just “collateral damage”, right? Not somebody’s loved and cherished family member. Not a person created to exist for reasons we might not know or understand – that we simply did not consider. It is all so “surgical” these days. So removed from any messy feelings or seeing any faces. Do we cheer the removal of the enemy? I have a hard time cheering, sorry. It makes me sad and sick that such difficult and extreme measures must be taken. But sometimes they must, right?
Do you believe that we have the right to kill another human? To take another person’s life…what could be justification? What about killing a lot of people – enemies? So what if they are old or children or not actually on the battle field – think Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why are some people our enemies? What did any one of them do personally to me or you? Would I ever consider taking someone’s life if my children’s lives or a friend’s life or my husband’s life… or probably any other person I know that I could sacrifice myself to save lives were at stake? Yes. I think so. I might even be vicious…but I don’t know. I might wait too long in hopes that I am wrong about the aggressor’s intentions. I might believe that I am mistaken about their evil desires until it is too late to act. I sure wouldn’t want to be wrong after all! It is a life after all!!! I could not be the person who shoots first and asks questions later. I would need to know…and it doesn’t really work that way, does it. I can not even imagine the stress of being a police officer or a soldier or an elementary school teacher these days. God bless them. And I SOOOOO mean it.
It is all just theory for me right now so I don’t have to really worry about such things, right?
When I was a kid I didn’t mind movies that are considered violent. Die Hard, Brave Heart, Rob Roy…Now I still occasionally go to movies full of carnage but I need for there to be a lesson…and I need for the good guy(s) to win…and I need the bad guys to get it and if the bad guy was REALLY bad I need for him to get it REALLY good. But who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? In real life it isn’t always so obvious. It is a matter of perspective isn’t it? It’s a matter of where we are standing and who is standing with us.
This is my problem…what if someone who is bad and has done terrible things WILL repent? WILL find The Way and then be used for great things? What if someone we deem without value has value that will change lives…this time for the better. Is it not true that the most compelling testimony comes from the person who came out of Hell by the Grace of God. We are not stirred by people who have lived perfect lives…didn’t Jesus say, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” We are all sinners. God doesn’t care about the degree of sin, but that we turn from it.
I don’t know the answer. There are people in the world that cause so much destruction and heart-ache that it seems impossible that they should be allowed to continue to exist. Why would we allow another Hitler if we could stop him? I would want him gone for sure!!! And yet I struggle with my desire for mercy and belief that no one is beyond salvation until their last breath…a breath that God gave and so God should also take away? Yes? No? Maybe? I agree with those that believe the world would be far better if some people were not in it. I read of a tribe who, when a person was deemed to be without a conscience (what would be diagnosed as a sociopath or psychopath), the tribe would take it upon themselves to rid themselves of the evil person. Did no one love that person? Did no one keep the hope that the person would change? Or did the tribe members know from experience that those people never change? I don’t know the answer to that either. I would hope for all of us that anybody can change. The problem with sociopath though is that they will not seek help to change – because they do not believe that there is anything wrong with them. They crave control and power and think nothing of using others to attain their end result…and they are master manipulators able to act any way necessary to make unsuspecting people believe them and to do their bidding. Evil is not a condition easily recognized even when it is staring us in the face. It is much easier for normal people to explain it away because it is something that we simply can not understand. See, the rest of us feel and care about other people. Evil people don’t…their feelings are a “show” to enlist assistance or obtain pity. That is how they “connect” – either through coercion, guilt-trip or “you scratch my back and I might scratch yours…if I will benefit”. The only way that they care about others is to the extent that they can use others. If you can do nothing for them, they have no use for you.
If you want to know how to spot a sociopath look up http://ingoodhealthfdl.agnesian.com/2012/11/07/how-to-recognize-a-sociopath/. or “How to Recognize a Sociopath.
That is the biggest problem – some people are ignorant and misguided and would respond if helped. But some people are evil and need to be avoided. It would probably be best if some of the purely evil people were not in the world…but when they leave it and how they leave it are not for me to say, thank God. For now I am sitting safely in a warm, safe house. I am not a refugee trying to survive robbers or rapists… or trapped in a rough neighborhood trying desperately to teach my children to not sell drugs or themselves…or brain-washed by a false religion or Nationalism. The world is a mess…and the people in the world are a mess…and I don’t even begin to know the troubles that many have seen. I wish I had a solution or a suggestion. I don’t know what to do, but I think that I fear people who believe they know what to as much as anything.
I would like to hear from you – what you think. I know it is easiest to ignore things that don’t seem to directly affect us – but doesn’t evil affect us all? Mass murders, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence…lives are ruined. Just because we may not have a good answer does not mean that we should ignore the problem. It may be too big for any one of us to “fix”…but there is more good than bad in the world. Let’s start with that. Let’s do good when ever and wherever we can. Let’s concentrate on good. Grow the good. Be a bearer of good-tidings and good works. Good works won’t save our soul…but our good works might lead someone else to salvation. It can’t hurt to try. Let’s please try.