But evil can't happen
The Sinclair Lewis novel, "It Can't Happen Here," was about the
conquest of the United States by communism. Perhaps more provocative than the
plot was the book's title. It reflected the widespread assumption by people that
the places where they live are immune to evil or catastrophic events.
When a community is touched by a monstrous crime or murderous act of nature,
its residents are left dumbfounded at how the snake infested their Garden of
Last week, it was reported that on Feb. 19, two young men in Sylacauga, Ala.,
confessed to beating to death a gay man before setting him on fire. The
president of the City Council was quoted as saying, "This is not the type
of place where this happens."
That, of course, is what they said in Laramie, Wyo., when Matthew Shepard was
murdered because he was gay. That also is what they said in Jasper when James
Byrd Jr. was murdered because he was black. And that is what they said in
Boulder, Colo., when JonBenet Ramsey was murdered for whatever reason.
The crimes of men and women are not determined by geography. Violence and
hatred are not confined by borders on a map. They are defined by borders of the
heart and mind.
Sadly but undeniably, wherever there are people, horrors will occur. The
challenge remains for people to replace hatred with love, to reach a place in
their hearts and minds where such horrors are more rare and their neighbors'
shock even greater.