Yesterday afternoon I saw disturbing videos and pictures of Cho Seung-Hui brandishing weapons, his face and voice contorted with hatred.
Later, as I was driving along a narrow on-ramp to the freeway, a taxi tailgated me and swerved as though he was going to try to pass me on the left. I felt very angry, and as the taxi drove beside me in the next lane, its driver flipped me off and I flipped him off and made mocking faces at him. Then he moved to my lane in front of me, still flipping me off out his window and I returning the compliment from within my car until he took the same exit I normally do to get home. I took that exit too and when he later moved to the same left turn lane I normally take, I decided not to stop at the red light in the left turn lane beside him and risk any kind of confrontation, but to take a different route home. I just waved and smiled sardonically at him as I passed him, and he flipped me off again.
Later that evening my wife and I were walking to the library where we encountered a young black male cursing and threatening someone at the top of his lungs, only there was no one around except the cars driving by and us. At first I thought be might be rapping or otherwise "talking" to someone he knew in the distance, but it soon became apparent that he was simply unhinged. My headstrong wife, who does not allow herself to be intimidated by anyone, kept walking toward him, since he was between us and the library, and I reflexively geared myself to take him apart (or at least give it all I had) if he attacked us. Fortunately, he walked away from us, continuing his vulgar rant.
Last night I watched "wildest" police videos of people trying to evade police in car chases or to kill them, and I hated those criminals and wanted them dead rather than mollycoddled in prison and then released to perpetrate more crime and pose further danger to the public and the police. I felt particular rage in watching one incident where several young black males had invaded a home and shot a crippled young white woman's parents in the head, abducted her, taken her to a store and were caught on video rolling her in her wheelchair to an ATM so that she could withdraw all of the money from her parents' account, then forcing her back into the van and driving away to be pursued by police whom they shot at from the van until they were pit-maneuvered off the road into a ditch, and the young headscarved men tried to scamper away. I wanted the police to Rodney King those worthless pieces of human garbage to bloody, lifeless pulp.
Early this morning I awoke from a nightmare. I do not recall any of the details except that, in my dream, I was overcome by some demonic force of sheer, irrepressible evil. I do not have nightmares very often, but almost every one that I do have is some variation of this theme of being taken over by an evil force from within.
It would seem that this is what happened to Cho Seung-Hui over a long period of time in real life and to horrific effect. His living nightmare became Virginia Tech's and America's nightmare.
I do not believe in supernatural beings of evil malevolence who try to possess our souls and succeed on horrible occasion. I believe that "the evil that men do" stems from natural misalignments of brain, mind, society, culture, and spirit.
But I do believe that each of us has the potential and purpose to minimize hatred and evil in the world by filling it with as much love and goodness as we can and to create more "angels" that nurture and uplift than "demons" that debase and destroy.
The renowned Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says "be peace" in order to spread peace in the world. Yet how does one become peace without repressing inner strife and turning one's outward peace into a facade that fools no one except, perhaps, the one who wears it?
And how do we minimize hatred and evil in the world without repressing our shadows and strengthening them to the point where they violently erupt in campus massacres or achieve more subtly destructive release in countless ugly manifestations of racial, ethnic, religious, political, and other forms of hatred and intolerance, or in angrily flipping people off who tailgate and flip us off on the highway?
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