Two events covered in the news this week have I guess caused a range of emotions in us all. The murder of Anuj Bidve on Boxing Day and the news of the successful conviction of two of those involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence are linked by nature of the futile loss of a promising life, mindless and unprovoked violence and, in the Lawrence case an established, and in the Bidve a possible, racist motive. The other aspect which has linked both cases is the lack of remorse and seeming inability of the perpetrators to comprehend the evil nature of the acts they committed.
My first reaction when hearing that Kieran Stapleton had given his name as "Psycho" when at the Magistrate's Court was one of intense anger. My reaction when seeing the footage of the Lawrence suspects talking exultantly about murdering and torturing black men, while acting out the same, was equally one of rage and revulsion. To be honest it made me angry that the actions of those who bring nothing to the party should so lightly take away the lives of those who are good and decent and have things to offer. I felt anger at the suffering and anguish they had caused. I wanted them to understand what they had done, and, quite frankly, I really wanted them to suffer.
There is room for anger and outrage in a right reaction to wrongdoing. We cannot always sit calmly by and be understanding when we hear of, or see, or suffer great atrocity. It is important, of course, that we balance our anger, that we try to some exent to step back, that we bring into the mix of our emotion other feelings and responses - that we question, that we grieve, that we despair for and of everything and everyone involved. The response of "psycho Stapleton" , may cause us to react with anger, it might also lead us wonder about what may have happened in someone's life to lead them to think that such a label gave any kind of status. Then our anger is tempered by a kind of horror at what a human being can become.
Is this a man? wrote Primo Levi, survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. And if this is a man, what chance of redemption or restoration? I do not know how far anger, and despair are Christian emotions - both are considered sinful , yet anger has its vital place in the moral response to human evil and an ability to feel a sort of despair is necessary (inevitable) if we are to acknowledge human evil and to be humble enough to admit our own potential for evil.
The Christian response to evil is, I suppose, to hold our anger and despair in tension with our belief in the goodness of God and the hope of grace and redemption. Then our souls can be "still" and at peace in that faith and hope, as suggested in the words of the hymn below.