By John Norton
In discussions on evil, I find being a parent has given me some precious firsthand insights.
Not that my children are monsters.
But it is precisely because they usually are good, and because they've been raised in a generally happy home, that I'm always surprised on those occasions when evil rears its ugly head.
I'm not talking about run-of-the-mill crabbiness or tiredness or hungry expressions. I'm talking about those much rarer moments of extreme self-centeredness. Those flashes of apparently homicidal anger. Those oily attempts at dishonesty.
The sense of evil I get is all the clearer because it stands in sharp contrast to the youthful innocence of the protagonists. These are 3- and 4-year-olds we're talking about. (And my wife insists it doesn't come from her side of the family.)
A parent also cannot help but to be introduced to another sort of evil through their children. There are few frustrations worse than caring for a sick, suffering child but being unable to do anything beyond watch the child's pain. Here you get a sense of cosmic evil and unfairness. How could somebody so innocent be allowed to suffer like this?
It's both of those sorts of moments that for me forcefully illustrate Church teaching that Satan is more than a myth, and that the human race has been morally weakened by original sin.
I'm sure others of you have had similar experiences, and there are more such stories in this week's In Focus, which is dedicated to an examination of evil (see Pages 9-12).
Examples of evil abound, and are even chronicled elsewhere in this issue. Witness the treatment of Christians in Eritrea (see story, Page 4), where seminarians are forced to join the military and foreign priests are expelled.
It takes extraordinary courage for the Church to stick up for itself in Eritrea, listed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom among the worst abusers of religious freedom.
"It is a very suppressed society; if you talk, you just disappear," one expelled priest told us.
The worst part of evil is the effect it can have on those who experience it. Both fear and a sense of helplessness are natural responses. But if left simply at that, they are a tacit surrender to evil's claim of ultimate power.
Despite the risks to his own life, the expelled priest is working to get back to Eritrea. He's aware that evil does not have the final say, and that God, as our cover this week so graphically portrays, promises the final victory to those who trust in goodness.
I'd like to hear your feedback on this week's issue. Let me know what you like and what we can do better.
Write me at feedback @osv.com.
-- John Norton