Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The national news picked up the 911 recording of a home defender fatally shooting an intruder near Chandler, OK...just right down the highway from me. (You'll want to turn down your sound because an ad starts playing when the page loads.) I actually lived only a few miles from there several years ago. I saw a story on The Early Show with an abbreviated version of the 911 call. It made me cry, because clearly this lady was in anguish over what she'd been forced to do. My heart goes out to this woman, and the disturbed man who was killed.

And yeah, I do feel sorry for the criminal. I don't think there's such a thing as pure evil. Crimes are committed out of mental illness and desperate circumstances; empathy is squashed by apathy and hopelessness  and lingering immaturity. While I believe crime should not be tolerated, and that we are ultimately responsible for our own actions, I always wish I could help these people function happily in society. I think about what happened to make a human being feel it was all right to impose himself on someone in that moment. Maybe I should consider a career in psychotherapy. Definitely not law. Or maybe I should be a writer...

In the above situation, there's just no good outcome. Whatever drove the man to break into Ms. Jackson's home ended one life and forever changed another. It makes me sad, the things we do to each other.

{ 11 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I think it's supposed to make us sad. That's how we know our hearts work right. No, we can't tolerate it and we can't allow it to go unpunished, but we don't have to be happy about it.

    So have a soft heart. Mine is hard enough for both of us.

  2. It's good that it makes us sad - that shows we have compassion.

    I totally disagree with you about the evil thing though. Crime is not always caused by mental illness or desperate circumstances. The crime rate didn't go up during the Great Depression, because poverty isn't the cause of crime. Sometimes people do things just because they want to. Or like the kid who killed another kid "to see what it felt like." That's not a mental illness, that's evil.

    I listened to that recording a couple days ago and my heart broke for that woman. And I wondered what the news story would have been had she not been armed.

    What makes a person think it's okay to impose themselves on another? Selfishness sometimes, a sense of entitlement, and sometimes just plain old evil. Like Gacy, or Bundy, or BTK.

    Yep, it's sad. Sometimes people are just broken and can't be fixed.

  3. Mine's a lot harder than it used to be.

  4. Poverty is not the only reason for crime, but it can exacerbate circumstances and attitudes which lead to crime. So people do things just because they want to. So what makes them want to, that's the point. Perhaps our definition of evil differs. If there is pure evil in the world, it would encompass those things I listed, be the cause of those things, not separate from them. Evil is not a state of being. People are not evil, even though their actions can be.

  5. Evil is not a state of being. People are not evil, even though their actions can be.

    Okay, if that's true, then you could also say:

    Good is not a state of being. People are not good, even though their actions can be.


  6. Actually Fal, yeah, I would agree with that statement. Except that I don't consider good and evil to be opposites. Good and bad, yes. But evil implies a whole other level of intent. But that's semantics, so yeah, I agree with that.

  7. Okay ... so I get what you're saying that bad and evil are of different intents, and that you believe people can be bad but not evil. Right?

    And evil is like a "perfect bad"? I think that's what you're saying. Do you think that there's also no such thing as a "perfect good" too? Like if there was a scale: pretty good, sorta good, good, bad, sorta bad, pretty bad? Like that? But no pure good and no pure bad?

    I'm just trying to understand dolly, I'm not trying to give you a hard time. :) I don't think I've ever met anyone before who didn't believe evil existed on some level. I know we've touched on it briefly, but I really would like to understand what exactly it is you believe.

  8. I know you're not giving me a hard time. :) All I'm saying is that any evil that manifests in a human is environmentally, physically, circumstantially induced. People aren't born evil, in my opinion.

  9. I don't think people are born evil either. But I do think they choose evil, just like they can choose to do good things.

    I think people can become evil, based on the choices they make. Bundy didn't start out evil, but became evil because that's what he chose. He could have chosen not to but didn't, because that's what he liked. I think when a person does that, chooses evil because they like it better, that's when they become evil.

    What I hear you saying is that people do evil things because they don't have a choice - it's induced. Is that what you're saying or did I misunderstand?

  10. Well, I'm glad you're a writer (not that therapists and cops/lawyers aren't needed too).

  11. People have a choice in how they react to their challenges. I do think, however, that there are a lot of hidden things that we are not aware of in ourselves that drive us. So I don't think it's black and white in that regard.

    Ultimately, good and evil are labels we as a society agree upon.


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