Evil show its hand this week in the horrific form of a dangerous mentally ill young man gunning down six and seven year old children in a school. While we may never know the exact history or nature of this man’s delusions, one fact is apparent: he believed killing the children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School was in his best interest, in complete disregard of the effect on others – or perhaps because of it. Such evil shocks us, it rips our hearts, and it forces us to confront it directly.
It spurs us toward action to ensure such evil cannot spread needless terror again. The faithful call for prayer, and many are needed to help the bereaved families and friends find peace rather than becoming bitter and hardened against hope for the future. Others see it as a rallying cry about guns – both pro and con. My social media pages are filled with memes that gun toting for all would have prevented this horror. Among my Facebook friends, that group is in the vast majority compared to the others that claim gun control would have prevented it.
The gun control debate distracts us from the pain of this tragedy and makes us feel like we are doing something to help when, in fact, we are not. We cling to that discussion, trying to keep it in the forefront, because it makes us feel better about ourselves – just as Adam Lanza believed killing those children would make him feel better. And that is the true nature of evil. Not only has it and shattered dozens of lives, but it encourages us, filled with justified rage, to ignore the evil in ourselves, to shout at others because we feel better ranting about something, and to enter a fight that divides us because our rage and sorrow needs an outlet. Whether by violence or words, evil cleaves us from each other. And it is always there.
It is easy to blame laws or school security or bad parenting or a failure of mental health intervention or a hundred other factors for such tragedies. But in the end, evil exists. It exists every time we act for our own pleasure or to heal our own pain, with disregard for the needs of others. It cannot be defeated by rules and regulations, because it will always be there, playing out is each of us in small ways and waiting for a crack in the safeguards to blaze forth and prove its might.
I will mourn the lives lost this week, and those taken at any point through evil. But I have no call to action to conclude this post. No rallying cry. No answers at all. Just something I will think about in my own life. And, I suppose, that is all any of us can do.