At one point in the interview, Mrs. Sawyer asked Mrs. Klebold whether she believed in evil. The mother knit her brows and slowly replied that no, no, she did not believe in evil.
I was stunned. Satan, I thought, must be pinching himself to be sure this is not just a dream. If even this poor woman does not believe in the presence of evil--a woman who witnessed her own son, whom she described as sweet and loving, transform mysteriously into a cool, calculating murderer--then who on Earth would?
So, imagine for a moment that you are intent on conquering your enemy's fairest city, carefully laying out a strategy and reckoning up all that this effort will take. Then your scout returns with miraculous news: The enemy does not believe you exist. They have built no fortifications, they have disbanded their army, and have even removed all mention of you from the children's textbooks. In short, they are wide open. All you need do is march in and claim the place and its surprised inhabitants as your own.
So it must be for the Prince of Darkness as he harvests legions of modern souls without firing a shot.
Mrs. Klebold's answer, that she does not believe in evil, goes a long way toward explaining the horrible acts that our fellow humans, often very young humans, are committing all around us today. The modern man says there is no such thing as some dark force, either outside or inside of us--just bad decisions and faulty environments that work upon a person until they find themselves deep into "damaging behaviors."
We don't talk about sin. The talk show host leans toward his guest, a young woman who has robbed her parents and grandparents, destroyed three cars while driving drunk, and threatened her brother with a large kitchen knife, and asks her if she would agree that she has made some "poor choices."
Saint Paul famously warned, "“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (1) But rather than a timeless statement of fact, St. Paul's words are derided as so much old-fashioned superstition. Evil does not actually exist, we contend, and neither does that scary place called hell.
Add to this sophisticated delusion the new ease of accessing those old forbidden fruits. We can feed a temptation to violence with a host of brutal video games, as well as a taste for depravity by quietly clicking into any of the countless pornography web sites. And when we follow a dark path to the point of committing a crime, our defense lawyer will convince the jury to be lenient because we suffered trauma as a child or had no good role models.
Naturally, many ugly things in our lives affect how we behave. People can decide to do terrible things, and these take their toll on us. But this is not an excuse to let ourselves be carried along into wickedness. Our situation is summed up well in the Vatican's 1965 statement Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope):
The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God's grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity. (2)
So we need to stop kidding ourselves. We can take a lesson from the children's book in which a little boy finds a small dragon at the breakfast table one morning, who proceeds to eat all the boy's pancakes. The child complains to his mother, who responds simply that "there's no such thing as a dragon." As the day goes on, the dragon grows larger and larger, filling a room, then the whole house, while the mother continues to assure her son that there's no such thing as a dragon. Only when the family finds itself riding high above their neighborhood, perched on the back of the beast, does Mom admit that this really is a dragon. And with this recognition, the dragon shrinks back to a manageable size. (3)
Indeed, there is good reason to keep praying the familiar words we have invoked for nearly 2,000 years: ". . . and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, Amen." (4)
1 Ephesians 6:12 (King James Version).
2 GS 37, 2.
3 There's No Such Thing as a Dragon, by Jack Kent
4 The Lord's Prayer, by Jesus Christ, ca. 30 A.D.
Dragon courtesy of Bing free images.