There is no rule that says that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. In fact, life just isn’t “fair” when it comes to that. Well, life just isn’t fair in general.
Case in point…Virginia Tech students and teachers slaughtered in their dorms and in their classrooms. Just the latest in the ever growing list of crimes against humanity that sear our hearts and minds and leave scars on us.
There are tragedies that happen because nature and humanity collide…tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, volcano eruptions, etc. It is the presence of people where these events occur that make these events tragedies. No people? No tragedy. But because they affect people the events are sad, and heartbreaking. And although the scope of the tragedy in most cases is smaller, and the numbers of lives affected smaller, there is something that is even more painful in a tragedy that occurs because a person decided to make the tragedy happen, and brought that tragedy about by their own hands.
What makes a young man pick up guns and mow down dozens of people who are doing nothing but minding their own business? What makes a person take the life of so many people, only to turn the gun on themselves? It certainly must be evil. Someone who is simply a wounded person just doesn’t do that to other people. The wounded person goes straight to turning the gun on themselves. The evil person takes down as many as they can with them. It is hate and anger which makes people do these things.
Now, I know this horrific tragedy will stir all sorts of debate. How do we keep something like this from happening again? And the easy answer is, you don’t. No amount of security screening, police presence, gun control, speech control, or WHATEVER, will keep an evil person from perpetuating evil on other people. What doing all these things does do is give a momentary (and false) sense of security. For a moment we feel like we are being proactive and staving off future acts of horror. But the reality is, whatever WE do, EVIL finds a way around it.
Were there warning signs? Maybe? Our society has what detective Mark Fuhrman calls an “outpatient mentality”. You can’t institutionalize everyone who is a little bit strange, anybody who might blow one day. I’ve worked in a setting where truly sick and deranged and evil people were brought in for “evaluation”. And let me tell you, the laws favor protecting THEIR rights over protecting the safety of others. I have seen people brought in who I would have locked up and thrown the key away, and yet “the system” deems them “not holdable”, and refers them for follow up at some mental health clinic. If THOSE people can’t be locked up against their will, how do you lock up every depressed and unstable person who writes scary stories? You don’t. This guy probably should have been locked up, but for what? Being scary? You can’t predict behavior. You can’t legislate enough to protect unknown future victims agains unknown future victimizers at an unknown time in the future. This Cho killer didn’t just lose it. He’d been planning to do this. Probably for a long time. And not because he was depressed or because some rich girl ignored him, which is probably true, too. But he did it because he was angry and full of hate. He did it because of evil. He shot up one dorm. And then two hours later, guns loaded for bear, he went out to kill some more. Witnesses heard him laughing as he emptied the guns. Like he was possessed.
As the days after this shooting unfold, we will hear stories of the people who were killed. We will hear that they were all really wonderful people and that they were loved by everyone who knew them. And everything that is said about them will be true. We will hear them described as “innocents”. When these things happen, it’s never the people who “deserve” it who are in the line of fire. It’s always good people, isn’t it? Evil hates good. Evil wants to destroy good.
In the middle of this wounding we as a nation have again received, I believe we must not be distracted by our immediate desire to want to do something. When we react purely out of our emotions, we often don’t make great decisions. We invite the government further into our lives and we give up more of our liberties when we do that. We ask the government to protect us more and more and we push to legislate our own rights to protect ourselves away. This man made a decision to destroy as many people as he could. There’s nothing the government or other “powers that be” could have done to ultimately have kept him from doing so. It’s about one man’s decision to destroy. It’s about the evil that walks among us.
“Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 (NIV)
I know of the sorrow surrounding all those who were closely touched by this horrific crime. My heart grieves for the families who have suffered losses. My heart grieves for the wounded who will forever carry physical and emotional scars. My heart grieves for the Cho family whose suffering must be unfathomable and whose sorrow I cannot imagine.
My thoughts and prayers are with them all.