The assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords reminds us of the evil that resides among us. We are so horrified by the massacre of innocent people in a Safeway parking lot that we want to point blame somewhere, to somehow eliminate it ever happening again. For the past week politicians have pointed fingers at one another trying to affix blame to their opponent. We have examined the killer’s trail hoping to find a clue that will enable us to eliminate the possibility of such a thing ever happening again. Such tragedy should rightly cause us to examine ourselves more closely and to search for means to correct whatever causes may have led to the assassination. But evil will not go away. It surfaces repeatedly to inflict pain, loss and grief as it did nine years ago on 9/11, in Oklahoma City in 1995, at the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and the Fort Hood killings in 2009.
The good news is that for all the evil that exists in the world there is far more good. For every crazed psychopath who plots the murder of innocent people there are a hundred heroes. We were reminded of that last week in Tucson when twenty-year-old Daniel Hernandez rushed to Gabrielle Giffords and cradled her head applying pressure to stanch the bleeding and save her life. Anna Balis grabbed Rob Barber who fell next to Giffords and used her bare hands to keep him from bleeding to death. Retired Col. Bill Badger, himself wounded, was one of four who subdued the killer while Patricia Maisch, 61, wrestled a gun clip away from him and prevented him from reloading. One of the victims, nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, became a hero in her death. Her innocent face inspired us all to create a better world for our children and to “live up to her expectations” as our President reminded us. Christina’s organs were donated to save the life of another child in the Boston area.
The list of heroes is always far longer than the list of murderers and assassins. The number of men and women who rushed into the Twin Towers ten years ago is too long to list. While the killers at Columbine have been long forgotten, Rachel Scott’s legacy continues to grow. Rachel’s Challenge has gone global. The life of the young woman who was the first shot at Columbine has inspired hundreds of thousands to acts of kindness.
In fantasy and fiction heroes are usually endowed with super powers along with a perfect physique and beauty. But in reality, heroes are very average looking people. They appear in every shape and size, every age and every ethnicity. Unfortunately, the same is true for those who inflict evil on the innocent.
Jesus indicated that this was the reason that God patiently allows good and evil to co-exist in the world. He compared the world to a field where the owner has sowed good seed. But, as the good seed sprouts, he discovers his enemy has invaded the field and sowed weeds among the good seed. The farmer’s servants offered to enter the field and root out the weeds, but the owner refused. “While you are pulling the weeds you may uproot the wheat with them. Let them both grow together until harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” (Matthew 13:24-29).
We must focus on sowing the good seed in our own hearts, in our families and our communities. The evil will not go away and it cannot be completely eradicated in this world. But the good will prevail and the harvest will come.