Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Face of Evil

The fraction of the general population that is truly evil and psychotic has likely remained fairly constant throughout the course of humanity. The Bible tells us that early on in our history, one man was responsible for the brutal slaying of 25% of the Earth's population. Even up to our own time, the truly evil live among us biding their time, licking their chops, surveying their surroundings for the appropriate venue or the right circumstance. It seems that something horrific rears its head with a regularity so disturbing that the actions of the evil are just a different type of fodder for the 24 news channels. Just in recent history in our own country there is a litany of events that jump into my mind:
  • Oklahoma City, OK (Apr. 19, 1995) - 168 people blown up in a building by a three man plot
  • Columbine, Co (Apr. 20, 1999) - 13 people gunned down by two teenagers
  • New York City, NY; Washington, DC; Shanksville, PA (Sep. 11, 2001) - 2977 people killed by terrorists in 4 airline hijackings
  • Blacksburg, VA (Apr. 16, 2007) - 33 people gunned down by a college student
  • Newtown, CT (Dec. 14, 2012) - 26 people gunned down by a lone gunman
  • Boston, MA (Apr. 15,19, 2013) - 4 people killed by two terrorists
Add to this the hundreds upon hundreds of murders that take place in ones and twos each month in every city and town across our country, the thousands of rapes that place everyday, and the tens of thousands of cases of domestic abuse. Each and every act evil and horrific and gut-wrenching. Yet behind each act are the people who plan them out. When we think of them we picture villains from the movies that we have seen over the years. A cariacature of a man in the shadows with the troubled past and the menacing snear, who is endlessly wringing his hands. Yet I think Fyodor Dostoyevsky made an insightful observation about such people:

As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted that we suppose.

I wonder how much loss could have been averted if someone had reached out to these people in those key moments of their lives when they were approaching the edge of their sanity, before that last thin straw broke them.