A lot of you may disagree with what I’m about to say. But maybe not.
This week, in my community, three students- a husband, a wife, and a sister- were murdered. These students were Muslim and each was shot in the head by what the social media community is calling a “militant atheist.” He was the neighbor of the husband & wife, and they had trouble with him in the past.
Today the local news station published the information that Mr. Hicks, the murderer, was moved to a different location for safety concerns. Naturally, because Mr. Hicks was an opponent of all religions, there is much speculation that this was a hate crime.
Official police reports are saying it started over a parking dispute. There is no more official information at this time; however, I won’t believe this was a simple parking dispute. (Side note: The media is also being criticized. They must print what is accurate. Be patient. The truth will come out.) But that’s not what this post is about.
Mr. Hicks is obviously a troubled man. He obviously has much cruelty and hatred in his heart. He obviously has issues. After hearing the news Mr. Hicks was moved to a safer location, social media was in uproar.
Why be concerned for his safety? He should be shot in cold blood too! He certainly wasn’t thinking about the safety of the students when he killed them. Let the other prisoners take care of him.
Just a few examples.
I’m no way am I saying Mr. Hicks doesn’t deserve to be punished. I hope our justice system does its job properly in making sure this man has jail time to pay for his terrible actions. But, people, just think for a minute.
When has an eye for an eye ever been the answer? When has murder in exchange for murder ever been the answer? When has hatred in exchange for hatred ever been the answer?
The families of the deceased are not calling for retaliation and it is not your job to do so.
From a Christian perspective, I believe all people are broken. Some people act on it, some people don’t. Some have more concerning problems than others. But no one is past redemption in my God’s eyes. Even the most broken of all people deserve forgiveness, whether we mere mortals think so or not.
Forgiveness will not be easy at a time like this, but it is what we must do. Forgiveness is going to be a painful process because it is not in our nature to forgive a man for killing three young people in cold blood. Forgiveness is going to be painful because most people believe this was a hate crime attacking a certain religion and we really don’t like that. But forgiveness, though difficult, is worth it.
Three young students are already dead. Families and friends are mourning. Must we call for more destruction? This man is a killer, but he is still a man. He has a family and friends that would mourn his death also.
They say revenge is sweet, but tell me, who benefits? The families of the deceased? No. Revenge will not bring their loved ones back. The community? Maybe you’ll feel better knowing this man paid for what he did and got what he deserved, but ultimately it won’t bring any lasting benefit. I’m just saying, prison time and the chance to recover would be more constructive than more killing.
Human life is precious no matter the person, no matter the past, and no matter the present.
Instead of anger, I invite you to respond in love. Feel compassion for everyone affected by tragedy and feel devastated for the people who hold so much hatred in their souls. That is a tragedy in itself. And believers, I invite you to pray for Mr. Hicks and that he will realize the cost of what he has done. I invite you to pray that he will see the light and he will meet a God who cares for him. I invite you to pray that this community can use this as an opportunity to unite in peace and love and forgiveness. If you are not religious, I ask that you simply respond in love and participate in healing efforts somehow.
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.