Explaining Evil To Your Children

Columbine. Oklahoma City. September 11th. Virginia Tech. Aurora.

vaderThe evil in the world isn’t easily explainable. The presumably safe activity of going to a movie theater is no longer safe. You can’t take for granted the simple tasks of going to work or attending class.

My 12 year old son and I were on my way to my father’s house when he asked me why so many people got shot. Before his question was posed, I was thinking about the coffee I was going to drink, and he was anticipating the ice cream his Grandfather was going to give him.

I couldn’t answer his question with other than a lame, hasty response – “son, there are bad people in the world.”

We can only reassure our kids that these are rare events, and that the criminals usually get taken down. Good triumphing over evil.

But, how rare are they, really?

When my daughter was much younger and drawing pictures of airplanes crashing into buildings over ten years ago, I felt useless then, as well. How do you explain such things? As an adult, I can’t comprehend them myself.

As we went into my Dad’s house, he quickly forgot about his question. Maybe because that house is a sanctuary. Our house is his sanctuary. The back yard. There is security of sorts in this world, but it’s usually contained within.

When I was young, it seemed all we had to deal with was the terror of the Son of Sam, preying on his victims in one sweltering summer in New York City. Simpler times, right?

I’d like to take my kids on a trip to “simpler times”, so they could catch a glimpse of an era  without 24/7 media coverage of mass murders, of terrorism. Where they wouldn’t have to ask the question, “why?”

When we got there, we’d play in my grandmother’s yard, without a care in sight. We could play games in the street, without much fear of other cars. We could go back to the family farm my cousins owned, and wander in fields for hours. No one would be concerned as to where we were.

In the days of “back then,” you could go to school without running for your life. You could go to a movie without the fear of flying bullets.

You should live your life by the windshield and not the rear view mirror: but who can blame you or me for looking to the past for comfort?

Kids, it’s difficult to explain these things to you. To say that you’re growing up in a much different place than your Mom and Dad grew up in – well, that’s a vast understatement. The only steps we can take are to raise you according to our ethics, and give you the room to grow into your own version of a wonderful, caring, loving person.

And once you do that, just believe that people like you will always outnumber the evil guys. And from tragedy, good will come.

2 thoughts on “Explaining Evil To Your Children

  1. I’ve always found it interesting we let one or two news stories completely distort our view of the world. I often wonder if the world is really all that different or the quick and easy access to news has changed how we view the world. The news is now constantly pumped out and the same stories are repeated again and again, creating an illusion that it is now normal…

    1. Hi Joe,
      My apologies for not replying to this comment until now, but I think now is the right time. Yes, these events are still rare and most of us will remain safe. But I’m afraid that in our world, the rare will become common place in the future, and we have gotten our glimpse of the “new normal”. I’m convinced now more than ever this is not the world you and I grew up in. We must pray for the younger generations…

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