I hesitate to post this as so much of it is spent examining some of the darkest parts of the world we live in, and I do not believe I have mentioned this, but most of these blog post are written using my private journal musings as a starting point for what it is that I’m writing that particular day.
On this day, when the original entry was written, it was just after the Connecticut school shooting this past December when I wrote the entries that I’m drawing from, and also, now as I rewrite them for posting here, I have to report that it happened this week that I saw an irate customer at the mobile phone provider, and this will perhaps put the thoughts in a little perspective and understanding of what it is that I am speaking of as I sort out my thoughts about these events:
I confess, the shooting shook my faith in humanity, as a whole, and I wondered if there really was anything worth hoping for or if all of us are doomed to be wholly evil, even if we do not all have the opportunity to commit such acts of horror as happened here. I still feel a heaviness in my heart when I consider the lives that will never be now as a result of the selfish acts of one person, and yet, and yet, I know that pain would drive a person to do things so inhuman, that madness comes in many forms, and sometimes even the worst of humanity is more in need of pity then we are apt to give towards them. There is no escape from the truth, the coldness of reality, there is no bringing back of the dead, and no redemption of the lost. It is an entirely hopeless matter that even though I am an outsider in terms of physical locality, and lack of personal acquaintance with anyone involved, I find fills me with despair. Perhaps that I see the same mindset played out every day, as would be found in the mind of the inhuman soul who would do these things, even though the result isn’t so visible, there is in so many such anger and hatred, the same selfishness that, apart from opportunity, remains unseen, but not unfelt. It is but the opportunity to be a destroyer that separates these people from being killers, destroyers, and so forth. It is the same blatant disregard for the life of others, it may not manifest itself in such a tragic way, but it is of the same mind. I feel it in the thoughts of the irate customer at the mobile phone provider, in line at the grocery store, in the impatient driver, and most horrifyingly, in myself when the right combination of buttons happen to be pushed.
We must look first to the heart of the matter if we are to answer why it is that these tragedies occur. All thoughts begin first in the heart and soul of a man, a heart that is pure would not hold human life in such a state of disregard. It would not hold as its standard some twisted sort of justice, where the law of self-promotion, self-centeredness, and hatred provides sufficient reason to take the lives of children. Almost all hatred begins as a perversion of justice, usually some perceived hurt against oneself. Murder begins with hatred, it is a child of hate, never does one hate because they murder, they always murder because they hate. Hatred begins in the thoughts, and the thoughts that give birth to hatred? Perverse justice. What is evil? Evil can only ever be perversity, because evil cannot be created, only good can be created. Therefore, evil must always be a twisting and perversion of something good. In this case, justice.
Evil is what takes place when good is perverted, but I do not think there is such a thing as inherent evil. How can there be if all there was at the beginning was good, there can be no evil that is evil in and of itself, inherently. Therefore, all must evil must have something good from which it is but a perversion from.
These questions have to be asked. And while we should be seeking every possible practical solution to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again, we cannot ignore the reality of the heart of the matter, which is the heart of man. If we fail to take that into consideration, we will see tragedies occur again, and again, and again. The conversation begins, and ends, with the human heart.
It is central to the matter, and without taking it into consideration, we can do nothing to prevent these events from happening again.
It feels so hopeless, so discouraging, and rather frightening. For twenty years the soul of a monster walked the Earth, lived among us, breathed among us, laughed with us, and at us. He was part of us. He was us. Which of us will do things in the future, things we ourselves cannot even imagine? What great evils will take place because we underestimate the evil within?
It is a bleak picture of the human condition. I want so badly to think well of mankind, to see them as something beautiful, wonderful, and brilliant, but then something happens that shakes my faith in that, and I see the monster, not only in the heart of those who would destroy, kill, and wound the innocent, but I see the monster within as well. All men are mirrors of our own souls, and we share in the disgrace of the darkest of humanity when these tragedies occur, because we are human. We need to acknowledge that there isn’t this great wall of separation between the best of men and the worst of men, but that every one of us has within us the potential to be one or the other.
Because we are what we choose to be. We can choose to be a good man or a evil man, we do not become one or the other without having chosen it. It begins with our hearts.
Which is why, we must tame our anger over the little things, the problems at the mobile phone provider, the slow traffic, or the errors that might take place in the checkout at the grocery store. It is the same heart of darkness, and left unchecked will, not might, but will lead to greater evils then just getting annoyed with the person we are around at the moment.
We become the product of our daily choices. Every day we make choices, to do the right thing, or the wrong thing. These are the choices that matter. These are the ones that form our character and it is our character that defines us. Destroyers and monsters do not just happen, they are made as a result of thousands of little choices that defined their character. It is the choices of the moment that leads to the defining of our character.
These things happen because we do not tame the little monsters of our heart, but let them grow into bigger monsters, until they consume us, turning us, ourselves, into monsters. And when that happens, it isn’t just shouting at the people who might have made a mistake, usually a pretty minor and correctable one in the grand scheme of things, but we see such acts of violence, such disregard for the lives of others. This and all such events are preventable tragedies, and it is the responsibility of all men to acknowledge the truth of what it is that is in our hearts, and the problems of the daily little evils that turn us into monsters.
Thus, when these sort of event occur I lose faith in humanity, not only because I see the darkness in the one who destroyed the lives of so many, but because I know it is but a reflection of the darkness within. I too have the capability, because I am a human being as well. What is it that separates us? It can only be our choices.
We should first look at ourselves for repentance, before we heap condemnation on the monsters, we should check our own hearts, and see if we too are monsters.
The hurt is that we are. All of us. We are desperately hopeless creatures. And this is why we lose hope in our kind because of the actions of one.
We hate ourselves for it. And the cycle repeats itself, over and over again. We’ve not seen the end to the evils of the human heart being played out. These sorts of events will occur again, it might not be at an elementary school, but it will happen.
What question are we going to ask ourselves, and are we willing to acknowledge our responsibility in the matter? Are we willing to acknowledge the shameful state of what it is that we are? To see that the darkest actions of the worst of humanity is only a reflection of the hearts of all men? To know that we all have the capability to become this sort of man, and to take the opportunity to ask ourselves what it is that we can choose to do to enact change in ourselves?
To see a glimpse of the heart of darkness, it forces me to examine my own heart, and to my horror, see that it is the same heart that I hold within my own chest. Because we are humanity, and this is our shame.
However, it is also the same heart of the same race that throws herself before others for the sake of saving the innocent. It is the heart of those who lay aside even their very lives for the protection and benefit of others. To give some the chance to live, where others had that stolen from them, laying aside their own lives to ensure it. It is the same heart of the hero. It is the same heart as the best of humanity. Those who chose the light over the darkness. She who would give her everything, this is a good heart. These are those who have not chosen the darkness in the little things, but let their character become one that when tested, shined all the brighter for it. We cannot help but admire them for their courage, because this is the outworking of their character. These are those who give us hope, that tell us that the world is not so utterly hopeless, and evil. That there are people who, do the most courageous thing there is to do. They live. They try with all their hearts to tame the monster within, to make the right choices, and they make the right choices. They believe in doing good, and it is this that defines their character, even though all of us have the monster within, these choose not to feed it. And we see in these beautiful creatures, the outworking of their daily choices. These are those we love, and they give us hope in humanity, and rightly so. And there are so many of these people out there. Ordinary heros, who upon taking a closer look at, turn out to not be so ordinary after all, but true gems, who you cannot help but admire.
I love them for it.
These are those who make the right choices. Who do the right thing. Who live their lives, doing the little things, making the little choices to do the right thing. Whether it is choosing to be patient with the, perhaps truly incompetent sales representative at the mobile provider, or looking upon the fact that perhaps the reason the person in the checkout isn’t with it is because maybe it took everything they had within them to just get up that morning, whether it is chronic illness, or a broken heart, they still got up, and while they can’t smile and pretend everything is great, they did get up. This too is good. More people are deserving of our pity, our compassion, then our condemnation, but we are quick to condemn and slow to pity.
Like Frodo and Gollum, before and after Frodo saw Gollum, it was as though two different versions of Frodo was seen. Frodo, before, was quick to heap condemnation upon Gollum, even to the point of hoping for Gollum’s death. After he had seen him, he pitied him, and hoped for Gollum’s nearly impossible, but nearly is a such big and beautiful word for the hopeful soul, redemption. We have the choice in how we view our fellow man, will we be quick to condemn, or to pity, and to hope?
It is not just those who lay down their lives for the sake of others that are heros, they are, and they rightly should be praised for it, and honored, but it is also those who make the right choices in the little things, these too are heroes. We should praise goodness wherever we find it, and acknowledge that even though it is a little thing, perhaps, these are the actions of a human being. And there is nothing more heroic then having the courage to be a human being. But to choose to do good, however small it might be, this is something to be praised.
I am becoming more and more convinced that it is our choices, especially perhaps, our choices in the little things, that define us for what we truly are.
So choose good. This is my plea for humanity, that they would embrace the light over the darkness, in the little things so that when they come to the fullness of the thought, it is something beautiful that occurs, and not something so horrible that it is unthinkable. Make the right choices in the little things, and be precious people, or turn into a monster, it is your choice, and it is the little things that matter so much more then the bigger, more obvious things, these are the things that define us for what we truly are. I plead with you to make the right choices in the little things, for the sake of humanity, and for yourself.
I plead with myself to make the right choices too, and I pray that I do not forget, my choices matter, and I do not want to be a monster, but it is the choices I make today that determine that. Such is the burden of the hour.