Why some people do evil things

Dear Daughter,

There are a few things in life that are impossible to understand, that our human minds are simply not capable of comprehending. And one of those mysteries is: what makes some people do evil things?

We all hurt others at one point or another, whether intentionally or not. That, I can understand. What I’m talking about here, however, is straight-up evil. Like, dark and twisted, horrendous acts.

I don’t know why I watch or read the news. It can be so depressing at times. I hear a story about what one person did to another and all I can think is, “What on earth would make them do such a thing? How does the thought of doing that even cross a person’s mind?”

This past week, in our very own region, a 19-year-old girl was found dead, at the hands of her 18-year-old male friend. I don’t even like writing those words, especially knowing that you’re going to be reading them. But that’s the cold reality of the situation. I keep running through my mind what might have happened, and all I can come up with are questions. What made that boy so angry that he thought to kill the girl? How does a person get to that point? And then I think about the girl’s poor parents, and how they’re making sense of this situation. If something like that were to happen to you…

We want to hate people like that 18-year-old boy. We want to shove all bad people into the corner and label them as trash because of the horrible things they’ve done. And they definitely should be punished by law, if what they’ve done is illegal. But I’m coming to learn that what the bad people need more than anything else is love.

I refuse to believe that some people are born evil and others are not. I believe God has created all of us to be good (as in, not evil; we are still sinful), but some are pulled away from goodness at an early age because of their family situation or a traumatic instance or a psychological disease. If someone has been treated wrongly their whole life, they’re likely to treat others wrongly because that’s all they know.

Let’s take the instance of this teenage boy and girl. There are some reports that they used to date, which tells me jealousy must have been his reason for wanting to hurt her. Maybe he found out that she was interested in someone else and he couldn’t even fathom such a painful thought, so in his mind she was better off gone forever. Maybe he was never taught how to deal with his emotions in a healthy way; maybe he’s so profoundly insecure that jealousy tipped him over the edge.

My point is, there’s usually an underlying psychological reason why people do evil things. Those of us with healthy families and self-esteems find that difficult to understand at times because we can’t relate. But we must give grace to people who do bad things. When you hear such a story as the one above, instead of lashing out about how horrible that guy is, pray for him. He is clearly broken and needs help and love and guidance. And be kind to those people in your life who seem to be hurting. You might just give them the acceptance they need to keep them from doing something stupid.

There will always be evil in this world. But evil will always be defeated by love. So, love others like crazy.