evil, humanity, and my own depravity

There is so much evil in the world. 
There are so many evil people in the world.
A month ago this week, 260+ girls were abducted from their school in Nigeria, simply because they were seeking an education.  These girls have not been found and I tremble to think of what they are experiencing.
This week, a Christian woman in the Sudan was sentenced to lashings and death for being “adulturous”; they would not recognize her marriage because she was Christian. Did I mention she is eight months pregnant?
This weekend, I watched the movie “The Killing Fields”, documenting the true story of the terror of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, while countries around the world looked away.
 
There is so much evil in the world.
There are so many evil people in the world.
This week, my students began to study their own modern injustice projects in my class. 
Darfur.
Child soldiers.
Syria.
Armenia.
Sex trafficking.
Joseph Kony.
Cambodian Killing Fields.
The Dakota genocide in Minnesota.
 
And I feel overwhelmed. 
My body aches and my heart hurts and it’s just a lot to take in.
And I begin to catch myself.
And I catch myself asking how “those” people could do just things.  
I catch myself wondering what kind of sick and twisted person could lash a woman who is eight months pregnant. 
I catch myself shuttering with disgust at the idea of grown men being so terrified of girls becoming educated that they find their solution to be to kidnap them- what kind of man is that, I wonder.  
I catch myself questioning what kind of person would force children into war.
 
And then I catch my reflection in the mirror.
And I shutter.
Because I am capable of this same evil.
 
In my hurt and anger and frustration at the evil around the world, I have to be careful to not dehumanize those who do evil.  If I dehumanize them, I am doing the exact thing that they are.  
 
In my hurt and anger and frustration at the evil around the world, I have to remember that I am capable of the very evil that is being committed.  
Hitler was made in God’s’ image; he was made good in God’s eyes. He had the potential for good and evil.  Mother Teresa was made in God’s image; she was made good in God’s eyes. She had the potential for good and evil.  Pol Pot was made in God’s image; he was made good in God’s eyes. He had the potential for good and evil.
I am made in God’s image; I was made good in God’s eyes.  I have the potential for good and evil.
 
That terrifies me.  These evil-doers are friends, brothers, cousins, lovers.  They are human beings. They are human beings with potential.
 
As am I.
 
So, the next time I catch myself wondering about “those” people, separating myself from the evildoers, I am reminded to look at my own reflection in the mirror and embrace my own potential. That is not saying that I cannot make different choices; I will and do. But, I am not so different after all.
 
Human beings are scary.
I think Sufjan Stevens’ “John Wayne Gacy Junior” says it best.
 
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