Push Back the Darkness

It’s been a heavy few days here in Colorado. On Friday the 13th , eighteen-year-old Karl Pierson entered Arapahoe High School in suburban Denver, openly carrying a shotgun, looking for a specific teacher. He shot senior Claire Davis who succumbed to her grave injuries Saturday afternoon. Pierson shot himself when he learned school resource officers were closing in. More causalities in another senseless violent attack in a place that should be safe. It seems like we are experiencing a nation-wide trend of mass violence.

It’s easy to become afraid or cynical.  To harden our hearts and circle the wagons, so to speak. But you can’t hide from evil. That’s right, mass killings by suicidal killers can only be described as evil.

I’ve faced evil, face-to-face, in hand-to-hand combat. Not a suicidal killer but evil just the same. I came out on the other side a much different person than when I went in. It almost did me in, literally.

What I learned from my experience is that the best way to overcome evil, is with good. Revenge and fear only lead to victory for the darkness.

Take for instance the situation in Pennsylvania, in 2006 when a gunman stormed an Amish school room and killed four school-girls and wounded seven more before killing himself. The families of the girls went to the killer’s mother’s house to comfort her. They even attended his funeral. Through their super-human act of forgiveness a whole community was able to move forward.

Goodness doesn’t have to be on such a monumental scale. Every day people are pushing back the darkness. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary prompted a movement “26 Acts of Kindness”, one for each victim. Simple acts, like taping money to the soda machine with a note of encouragement. Maybe you’ve been the recipient of someone paying for your coffee in the drive-thru.  I’ve heard about an anonymous person who is paying off peoples’ Christmas layaway bills. I know of a mom who carts her kids to various nursing homes to visit and deliver handmade cards at this time of the year. A friend of ours had his lunch paid for by some other diners in a restaurant. This simple kindness almost brought this burly man to tears. I’ve seen kids rally around a new classmate, making sure he didn’t eat lunch alone and had someone to play with at recess. All wonderful examples of pushing back the darkness.

An underlying theme in most of my writing is being confronted with evil and how do we respond. My characters don’t always take the high road or have a successful response, just like in real life. But when we make a conscious choice to do good we never know how far the ripples of that act will reach. Maybe all the way to someone plagued by thoughts of doing harm, maybe it will be an opening for good rather than evil.

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