The Right Opinion

Explaining Evil

By Cal Thomas · Dec. 18, 2012

Trying to explain an evil act like the one that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is on a par with explaining how the universe was formed.

The natural human reaction after extending sympathy and prayers for the victims and their families is to ask what actions might have been taken to prevent the massacre. More gun laws? Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Those laws did not prevent a man with evil intent from carrying out his heinous act.

Some will blame TV and video game violence. Depictions of murder and other violent acts on TV and in the movies have grown in recent years, but people killed people long before TV and movies. Such explanations are too easy.

Would armed guards at Sandy Hook have helped? Possibly, but do we want guards at every elementary school, patrolling not only the halls, but playgrounds where kids ought to be able to play in an atmosphere of fun and freedom? That may be where we are headed.

What about locked doors? Sandy Hook's doors were reportedly secured, but the shooter still managed to somehow gain access.

As much as humans have tried for millennia to prevent evil acts, we have not succeeded. In the modern era, Woodrow Wilson believed his League of Nations would usher in peace on Earth, if not goodwill to men. The United Nations followed that aborted experiment. The U.N. has been equally unsuccessful in preventing the slaughter of innocents and other evil acts.

Political leaders not usually identified with spiritual concepts are making use of the word “evil' in accurately describing what happened in Newtown. We hear calls for prayers from politicians committed to the separation of church and state. Whether it is Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Ft. Hood, Oklahoma City or the 9/11 terrorist attacks, evil seems to have gained a foothold in America.

Not every parent with a child in public school has the option of home-schooling, but that is something they might want to consider if they want to create a completely safe environment. Even private schools can't offer full protection from a deranged mind hell-bent on carnage.

More information about the killer will surface in the days to come, but even if we learn he was psychotic and off his medication, that will not satisfy our communal anger or anguish. It will not explain evil. It will not explain why 26 innocent lives were lost.

The way to deal with evil is to first acknowledge that it exists and that we all possess the potential for it. We don't become evil by what we do, but because of who we are. We are human beings, not God. We are not "basically good,” as some claim, we are imperfect and fall far short of any true standard of perfection.

Evil is a “pre-existing condition.” In some it is controlled by an inner compass, or by laws and cultural constraints. When it is not, we get Sandy Hook and tragedies like it. We get what we do not understand and cannot begin to fathom.

There may be no greater expression of evil than the murder of children in their classrooms. In calling for prayers, officials have taken an important first step in combating evil, but a larger question should be asked. Perhaps theologians, pastors, priests and rabbis are the ones to ask it, but permit me a suggestion.

If there is a source of evil, is there also a source of good? And if there is, has that source for good been offended by all of the accumulated evil we are piling up, affording it an upper hand?

As a friend of mine says, “Not a sermon, just a thought.”

© 2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

8 Comments

wjm in Colorado said:

What is truely evil is the marxist statist mind, that can conjure up the insane belief that the gun was the culprit, not the insane nut job they believed could be medicated into some semblance of normalcy. We get mass attacks because of liberal marxist statist insanity that would allow an insane sociopath to walk freely among us, and that they would be disuaded from entering an area because they post a sign that reads "Gun Free Zone". The marxist statists traitors are evil personified, and off they go again on their anti gun crusade, because until the sheeple are disarmed, their total marxist takeover cannot succeed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Old Prof in Dallas said:

We moderns ridicule earlier cultures for their belief that names possessed power. But, we've fallen into the belief that by putting a name to mental illnesses (sociopathic personality, et al) we have achieved an understanding of causation and control. It is probably just about as useful, though "unscientific" to say that such a person is demonically possessed. It has the advantage of clearly highlighting the evil nature of the action. Not to say that modern medicine is irrelevant, merely that we over-estimate our understanding and control under circumstances such as Newtown, Columbine, or the Shoah.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:50 AM

JJ in WV said:

I would recommend to anyone the following book. Amazon may have paper back copies of it. It talks about those dark sides and does not discuss drug modified behavior. A sociologist would tell you it is dated - I will tell you it makes more sense than the some of the theories that they put forward. It is readable and based on his research (and even cites John Lott)

The Dark Side of Man – Tracing the Roots of Male Violence
Author - Michael P. Ghiglieri
Library of Congress Card 99-60682
ISBN 0-7382-076-X
Copyright 1999

Reading expands the mind and sustains rational thought - unlike an obsession with emoting about everything.

Happy reading

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Old Desert Rat in Las Vegas, NV said:

Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. If that mentally ill killer did not understand what he was doing, why did he kill himself? Evil exists and it walks among us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Tapdaddy in Indiana replied:

Excellent point, he knew that he couldn't stand all of the criticism that was coming his way so he took the coward's way out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

Until psychiatrists and pyschologists stop believing that mental and social maladjustments can be controlled with drugs with no oversight we will continue to have these types of tragedys. I don't advocate locking them away but they can't be allowed to stop taking their drugs if that keeps them on an even keel. Some system has to be put in place to make sure that happens. The mental health system in this country is broken.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Tapdaddy in Indiana said:

"We don't become evil by what we do, but because of who we are." Therein lies the fallibility of man.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

The book of Romans-chapter 12 takes about overcoming evil with good. Christian conservative lives, are being daily transformed, by regeneration-into more Christ-like behavior.. Christ overcame the world, sin, and even death- on a cruel cross. We need to take up our daily cross, and in so doing, we'll face trials, tribulations, and persecutions. God's GRACE is sufficient. Alleluia, sinners and saints.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 7:24 PM