Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Random Act of Evil

When I was about seven years old, I watched an old black-and-white movie called The Bad Seed. It is about a pretty little girl, Rhoda, who is a sociopath. She can be as sweet and smooth as honey but turns into a cold-blooded killer if she doesn’t get what she wants. She kills a classmate who wins the penmanship award that Rhoda wants and kills the gardener because he discovers Rhoda’s secret.

I thought about this movie for years after seeing it. It’s the first time I remember thinking that true evil can exist, no matter the age of the person, and it can be anywhere, even living next door.

Many years have passed since I watched a scary movie or read a horror novel. I’ve seen and heard of more than enough real-life acts of violence, and like most people, I wonder why some people are evil and some aren’t. Can a person be a bad seed? Is it the nature/nurture thing? How can someone not have a sense of right and wrong or not feel guilt and remorse?

A few years ago, I taught a young man who was on a fast-track to prison. I knew it when he was in the ninth grade. He wasn’t like the kid who is naughty in school but has some redeeming qualities. This boy was cruel to classmates, disrespectful to teachers and cheated on everything. His home life wasn’t great – parents divorced, overindulgent dad, absent mom, raised by elderly grandparents – but his life was typical of many others. At age 16, this young man was expelled from school for drugs. When he was 18, he committed a felony and served five years in prison. He was out of prison for only a few months when, during a planned robbery, he brutally murdered two young men and their dog.

What makes a person like my former student commit such evil acts? Sometimes villains commit terrible deeds because of mental illness or acts of passion. Addiction also causes people to become totally opposite of the person he/she once was. But are we just giving evil a way out, an excuse that it’s ok for this person to display violent behavior because he is schizophrenic, on drugs or angry?

Does the evil-doer ever consider the effect on the victim? I don’t think he thinks about anything except himself and his wants. After a random act of violence occurs, the lives of the victims and their families are changed forever. Anger and disbelief take the place of the feelings of safety and innocence they once had. I’m not sure if I could ever fully recover from an attack on my family or friends.

This post really has no clear point. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how terrible some people are. This week, a person attacked and killed my friend’s mom during a home invasion. This woman was an elementary school music teacher who would have soon retired to enjoy her grandchildren.

I don’t know why some people carry out evil plots. Maybe it is the way the person is born or maybe it’s his environment. I heard once that the genes load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger. My pastor explained that at these times, the devil takes control. In the age-old fight between evil and good, evil wins during intentional acts of violence.

I wish I had a way to rid the world of evil, but I don’t. There are too many bad seeds scattered all over, and no matter how vigilant we are, evil can find us.