"Pure evil," my friend said to me. "I looked straight into the eyes of pure evil," she repeated.
More than ever, I am personally convinced that there is a hell. This affirmation was reinforced by my friend's belief that truly evil people exist in our world, and that hell can be their only destiny. She was talking about someone she encountered whose mean, empty eyes made her blood run cold.
Most all of us were taught right from wrong as we grew up, whether it was by parents and teachers, a Scout leader, clergy member or other well-meaning people in our lives. Right from wrong is as important as teaching a child to look both ways before crossing a street or never talking to strangers.
We have many opportunities to instill good in our young people. Maybe we teach them respect by not yelling at our spouses or using foul language. Perhaps when riding in the car, our kids learn that we can be patient even when traffic is backed up and we might be late for the all important football game or meeting at work. It could be as simple as setting an example on how to dress for church or when visiting a grieving family at a funeral home.
Respect is a two-way street. To receive it, you have to give it. While respect most often is earned, it also should be automatic in settings involving life and death issues.
But what has happened to a segment of our society? There are stories of people who have become so self-centered that even their own children are pawns in their evil ways. Stories of child abuse cause us to shake in anger for those innocent victims.
And just when you think it can't get any worse, someone stoops to a new low. Take the West Virginia couple who received baby formula via government subsidies only to turn around and either sell it or refund it at a store for cash. The money was then spent on drugs. The couple's baby was not adequately fed and in turn, died.
My mind cannot wrap itself around stories such as that. I must move on and pray someone learns from that story and that such a crime is not repeated. Wishful and hopeful thinking on my part.
I had the occasion to spend some time with a couple little kids on the playground at Wheeling Park this week. There is something magical and innocent about watching kids at play with big imaginations. With a few Matchbox toys clutched in their hands, two little boys carved out a small area in the dirt to build a road on which to drive their trucks. Such play can only drive their creativity to new heights, and it is all done without turning on a computer, tablet or Ipad.
After seeing these young minds and hearts at work, I refuse to give up on the world or our future.
For every evil-doer out there, I am hopeful there are two innocent, loving children who are or soon will make a positive difference in our world, plowing the dirt out of their way with one Matchbook truck at a time.
Heather Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.