…be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it.
Paul Harding in Tinkers
There is plenty of aching confusion this week about the nature of criminal intent, premeditated planning and the role of mental illness in excusing responsibility. Seeing the blank confused eyes of the Colorado mass murderer during his first court appearance (was he faking it? was he sedated? was he simply mentally “checked out”?) brings up the question of his competency and capacity to discern right from wrong. He was certainly very competent and highly organized at setting up and executing a diabolical and intricate plan for killing as large a number of people as possible. Incompetent people usually can’t plan breakfast much less mass murder.
So how do we know evil when we see it? We don’t have to look very far. It is hidden deep enough in each of us that we don’t usually confront it daily, but it is there. For some it is their daily bread, feeding them as it is fed and growing. It can be all-consuming, finally taking over the heart and the soul completely, leaving nothing recognizable behind.
Not recognizable, however though completely undeserving, redeemable.
May there be mercy for the aching, clarity for the confused and a new heart to replace the lost.