Deliver Us From Evil: A Moment with Bill Reflection
The Darkness Around Us
“There is an unlimited potential for darkness in we human beings. Cops know it, as do soldiers who have served during wartime. Most definitely many social workers are aware of it as well.
For the most part, though, citizens go about their daily lives unaware. They will occasionally read a story in the newspaper of an act committed, an act so hideous as to defy all logic, and they will shake their heads and mumble in disgust, and the hairs will crawl on the backs of their necks, but within ten minutes it will be forgotten, pushed aside as an aberration not worthy of further thought. Those things happen somewhere else. Those atrocities happen to someone else. Surely it would never happen in Middle Town, America, where Christ is our savior and the Bible is all the protection we will ever need. Never mind that Ted Bundy had a Bible in the top drawer of his dresser. The occasional bad seed does not represent the norm.
But those who serve in harm’s way know differently. Homicide cops can tell you, but they won’t. They could tell you of the disemboweled and beheaded, but they won’t. They could tell you of tortures and axes, of knives and acid, scalpels, chains, tire irons and drain cleaner, but they won’t.
Soldiers can tell you, but they won’t. Those who have served in the unbearable stench of Nam, the choking dust of Iraq or the steaming pisspot of Panama could tell you of Mama-sans skinned alive, of children raped with punji sticks and entire villages locked in huts and set afire, but they won’t. They choose, instead, to keep those images under lock and key inside their heads, away from their spouse, their children, their pastors, counselors and teachers, for certain things should never be shared and should never burden people of kindness. The images play in a continual loop, dreams at night that defy classification and leave them wondering where reality begins and ends. Days are a bit more merciful as jobs and other responsibilities keep them active and for the most part too distracted to revisit that which should never be experienced.
Many of them turn to rot gut whiskey. Others embrace the saving grace of black tar, angel dust, lid poppers, flake, or bombitas, anything to provide comfort for a few moments. A few finally slip one in the chamber and blow the dreams out the back of their head. None of them find the answers they seek. All are haunted for their remaining days by questions. Are there some of us who are just born distorted without the troubling shackles of a conscience, intent on debasing all that is good, or are all of us capable of changing, of taking a wrong turn and discarding morality, finally becoming someone our mothers wouldn’t recognize?
There is a third possibility, one whispered around campfires and told in stories passed down through the generations, that there is pure evil walking among us, dating back to Yahweh, shapeless, ethereal and sinister.
I have wrestled with those questions for most of my adult life.” (from my new novel, Shadows Kill)
The Other Darkness
There is another evil that bears scrutiny, an evil every bit as malicious as those mentioned above, and it resides in us all. It is capable of inflicting great harm on the unsuspecting. It can maim, cripple and yes, ,kill. It is the absence of humanness, and I pray we all reject it.
In the great majority of humans there is compassion and with it empathy. We are capable of relating to others. We see someone suffering and we feel that suffering. We witness acts of hatred and we stand up against it. We protect and we guard, we nurture and we comfort, and when we are spreading our wings and soaring with the angels of our kinder natures, we are caregivers of the highest order.
We are capable of bringing peace to the war-ravaged. We are capable of healing wounds unseen, and bridging gaps that threaten to derail all progress made over the centuries.
But we are also capable of selfishness and self-centeredness. We are also capable of allowing our egos to run amuck, and in so doing ignore our higher calling.
Imagine, if you will…if you can…a world without compassion. Imagine a populace that follows the credo of every man for himself. Imagine a world without love.
What would it look like?
Would it look like today’s world?
The Answer As I See It
Governments cannot legislate brotherly love. They are incapable of forcing their constituents to practice love they neighbor. The Halls of Congress, the White House, Parliament, the Supreme Court, these institutions, created by man, cannot reach into the hearts of men and women and teach tolerance.
And yet the answer lies in those hearts.
I believe the greatest evil we face during our lifetimes is our potential for not caring about others, for once that potential becomes a reality, a cold wind will blow across this land and all hope will be extinguished.
The answer lies in us.
I cannot bemoan the sorry state of this world if I am part of the problem, and I am part of the problem every single time I reach out and strike a fellow human being with my words or actions. Every time hatred dictates my actions, I am evil. Every time bigotry dictates my actions, every time selfishness rules the roost, every time fear steers me to the other side, I am evil.
Harsh words for sure, words many do not want to hear, but tell me I’m wrong if you can.
How can I expect others to show compassion when it is lacking in me? How can I look at world leaders, and shake my head and cry out against injustice, when I do not show empathy?
I can rise with the gods and take my rightful place upon the mountain of greatness, or I can ride the ferry across the River Styx and embrace the darkness.
The choice is mine.
Yes, Evil Exists
Some evils we have no defense against. There will always be the Ted Bundys of the world, roaming among us and preying on the unsuspecting. I wish it were not true, but wishing does little to protect us from those anomalies.
I wish those who suffer psychological shifts and turn to violence could find help. I wish there was a way to predict in advance, to give them the help they need, and to prevent the destruction they cause in later life, but there is not.
And I wish pure evil did not exist if in fact it does. I wish there were no malevolent spirits roaming the netherworlds seeking to harm and infect all that is good, but if there are then I am as in need of mercy as the rest of you.
As for the final evil on our list, there is an answer and a protection.
Become more human!
Embrace the gentle angels.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)