I remember remaining silent as I sat huddled with friends around the TV. The news had just interrupted our show to tell us that Seal Team Six had taken out Osama Bin Laden. For the next half hour my buddies tried to one up each other on what they would do if it was them in front of Bin Laden. How they would bloody his nose a bit first, maybe waterboard him, and then kill him as slowly and painfully as possible.
It was a lot of weird feelings. I knew exactly what Bin Laden did. He was responsible for deaths of thousands of innocent lives. He was unrepentant and smug about it. He believed that God was on his side.
And yet, I still found myself torn. Two distinctly different forces were pulling me in opposite directions. While I should have been happy that “justice” was served, all I could think about were crowds outside the White House dancing and singing. The jeers and Huckabee tweeting “rot in hell Osama”, all of it, made me feel so sick. There was no peace to be found that night. Collectively, we had found a reason to let our inner beasts roar. We desecrated prayer. At least the ones people mentioned on facebook. I saw prayers for locks on the Pearly Gates, and that the pit of hell would come alive with suffering.
It was the clearest and most understandable moment of cognitive dissonance in my life. The world was telling me throw a party, ding dong the wicked witch is dead! Fly the flag, relish in revenge, take the kids to the TV and say “guys! This is what justice looks like”.
But my faith, my conscience, the moral compass within me held back on throwing my hands in the air. I knew this couldn’t be justice. This couldn’t be Christ.
Over the past couple days I have seen Adam Lanza called an evil, vile, human piece of garbage. I have seen heartwarming posts of prayers for the families of victims, only to be followed by “burn in hell Adam”.
There is a devastation in our disconnect.
I understand the anger, I am angry and I think we should all be very pissed right now. But is our anger misdirected?
Maybe that’s something to think about.
Mental illness comes with all the shame as any stigmatized status in today’s society. Hollywood has made billions off of horror movies of psychos, scary schizos, and those with split personalities. People are terrified of it.
But maybe a facet of that fear is of ourselves. Maybe on some subconscious level we all fear our own insanity.
I have problems with anxiety. There was one bad spell where I told my parents I thought I was losing my mind. I didn’t believe I truly existed. There is nothing more frightening than fear of yourself. Fear of our fallen nature. Fear of becoming the monster.
It is time to think differently about evil.
It exists, but it is not always chosen.
As Christians we know that this man was not evil.
And all of us, even Jesus, have fought against his advances every day of our lives.
But sick people don’t have the same strength to fight back. That’s what we are here for.
Adam Lanza was the least of these. He was the one Christ called us to care for. He was sick and we failed him. We failed those families, we failed humanity, and worst of all, we failed the Father.
Calling this man a monster only makes Satan that much stronger. Every time we do, we are stealing every ounce of credit he deserves. He couldn’t ask for a better deal. He bets on our inability to see the monster behind the man whispering in his ear. We know spiritual evil when we see it. I know Satan loves nothing more than taking kids away from parents. In the days of Christ he would send demons to posses children, make them hurt themselves and their loved ones around them. This is NOT to say that Adam Lanza suffered from possession, but his weakness were exploited by the enemy. Satan is the culprit. We can hate him.
This man needed compassion and protection. He needed a society that didn’t shame him for his vulnerability towards violence. If we continue to wage war on the symptoms and not the causes, we should not expect any recovery. If we continue to ridicule those that feel isolated and misunderstood, it should not surprise us when they hit back. If we continue to neglect their need for attention, our children will bear the cost with their blood.
We need to rethink evil. We need to remember Satan. And we need to start seeing the least of these in every corner of life.