The Terrible Thing about Evil

The Terrible Thing about Evil June 23, 2016


Lord knows why I’m doing research for a movie I won’t watch for months and I’ll probably dislike anyway, but I am. Veteran readers know I’ve got a fatal attraction to watching and reviewing films put out by Pure Flix, so much so that I’ll probably get a phone call from David A. R. White’s attorney if I make fun of his acting ability again. And I’m already determined to catch the premier of “I Am Not Ashamed,” the Pure Flix movie about the Columbine High School massacre, when it comes out in October.

I was a homeschooled teenager on the other side of the country when the Columbine shooting happened. I had never been given a very clear account of what happened; I’d been told it was to do with goths and satanic music, and that some Evangelical Christian had declared her faith and become a martyr there (all fictions, as it turns out). I had a very insular, isolated childhood. It frequently embarrasses me to realize how ignorant I am about things that took place in my own country during my own lifetime. So, I’ve been researching online, reading the autopsies and a synopsis of the events.

I was shocked to see how little I knew about the killings that day, and even more shocked to realize that so much of what I’d been told was nonsense. There’s plenty to be shocked about, reading the accounts. It’s deeply terrifying to know that that kind of evil can exist. Of course we’d like to explain it away by blaming video games or heavy metal or antidepressants, and for all I know any one of those things might play a part. But that’s a discussion for another day. Those aren’t the things that frightened me the most. There is one thing, in that account, that scared me half to death. I’m still haunted by it now. It’s taken me days to even find words for what I found so terrifying.

Harris and Klebold were bored.

They were bored. Not remorseful, bored. During the shooting that took place in the library, as they ducked under desks one by one, taunting the other students, murdering some, wounding some and telling them to “quit your bitching” when they screamed, tossing Molotov cocktails at a bookcase, when Harris himself broke his own nose from shotgun recoil but just kept shooting… they got bored.

Survivors recount that, after awhile, Harris and Klebold lost interest. Klebold said “Maybe we should start knifing people, that might be more fun.” But they didn’t. They taunted a few more victims and wandered out of the library. They returned to the cafeteria to try to detonate their bombs. They did not enter any more classrooms. They fired at the police outside, and then the nightmare ended–with one final shock, a bang and not a whimper, the way nightmares usually end. A witness heard the two of them shout “one, two, three!” and a final round of gunfire. Eric Harris shot himself in the mouth, and Dylan Klebold shot himself in the head. God have mercy.

In the middle of all of that– in the middle of murdering people and tossing bombs, in the middle of whatever revenge or power fantasy they were living out in real life– Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold got bored. They got tired of killing people. They weren’t sorry, they just stopped having fun. And then they tried to bring the school down in flames, and they failed, and then they killed themselves.

Violence is boring. Evil is boring.

I must have known this before. Haven’t I always experienced it to be true? In my own sins, and in accounts of others’ sins? In every sin we indulge in wholeheartedly enough, doesn’t the thrill wear away quickly? Don’t we get bored? After the stolen fruit is eaten, after the affair is truly consummated, after the bomb is dropped–and not only after, but during.  While the food is still in our mouths; while we’re still in that embrace; while the mushroom cloud goes up and we feel ourselves powerful; while our enemies cower under desks; we feel it setting in. The boredom. The loneliness. The emptiness. This doesn’t feel good anymore. The fantasy is over. I’ve carried my fantasy into reality, and now I see it plainly. It’s worthless. It’s no fun.

That’s the most frightening thing about hell. It’s boring. Satan and all his pomps and works are boring. Once you scratch the veneer away, there is no more glamour, only a mouthful of chaff and an eternity where thirst and unquenchable fire are preferable to the emptiness.

God help me. I knew this, but it needs to be stated to me over and over again. All the terrible things I think I want, my Father doesn’t let me have, not because He’s prudish, but because He wants me to be happy. Jesus came to save me from the fires of Hell, because He wants me to be happy. Our Father in Heaven would wish us always to be happy, but we refuse Him. Again and again we refuse Him. We lash out, seeking thrills that don’t satisfy. We find false camaraderie in people we despise and we conspire to evil things, a mockery of real friendship. We destroy our brothers and sisters. We break ourselves against our own weapons. We lose interest, because it’s boring, but we still don’t repent. We try to bring the world down in flames, but by the mercy of God we’ve so far failed. One, two, three, and then we are gone. Our Father weeps for us. He wanted us to be happy.

Good is far more than the opposite of evil. Evil is always the same– different colored trappings on the same corpse. It always looks so beautiful and new, and at the bottom it’s nothing but boredom and emptiness. Good can seem all kinds of ways– sometimes desirable, sometimes leprous, sometimes merely tiresome. We give ourselves to the good, and the path is different for each of us. It never seems appealing all the way through. We each eventually reach darkness and have to persevere. But good leads in the end to more good and still more– always from the lesser to the greater, the spring to the stream to the river to the sea. All good reaches the sea of good.  Evil, at its core, is monotonous forever, a stagnant puddle that poisons all who drink from it and dries up to nothing in the end.

Good is ever new. Our Father’s mercies are renewed forever, because He is good.

He wants us to be happy.

I pray for the grace to accept, for each of us.

Our Father wants us to be happy.


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