I’m sitting here reading about the abuses that went on at a Residential Hospital in Bristol. Winterbourne View treats people with learning disabilities and autism; but they were regularly abused physically and verbally by the staff there. And I can’t stop crying when I think about the injustice and horror of it all. How did this happen?
Perhaps most telling, is this article by Joe Casey, the reporter who went undercover. His inside perspective left him haunted and disturbed by the ordeal. And towards the end of the article he writes:
“The way we treat people like Simone and Simon is a measure of our common humanity. By that measure we have failed.
So where can the debate go now?”
Who knows the evil in man’s heart? As much good as we are capable of, humanity seems just as able to do an equal amount of evil. For every heroic story of rescue, there’s another story of a massacre in a school. And as many great residential care homes that are out there, there’s still the potential for abuse and harm.
And so Casey asks, “Where can the debate go now?” What can we do to change the darkness of humanity? What laws can we put in place to protect the vulnerable? What things can we do to remove evil from our lives?
We know that laws, as powerful as they are, can’t mask the desires that dwell in our hearts. And those who are above the law, will seek to fulfil their darkest desires (see Silvio Berlusconi). Laws can guide, and highlight what we shouldn’t be doing, but they cannot cure our hearts of the disease. Evil is a virus that grips the heart of mankind. And no matter how good we can be, there lurks within in the potential for so much worse.
Were the people guilty of the abuse in Winterbourne View just purely evil people? What lead them to this? Was it group think? Was it fear? Was it a previous history of abuse? Perhaps it was as Philip Zimbardo talked about at TED 2008, a perfect storm of conditions that transformed good people evil.
Or perhaps, we are not as strong as we think we are. Living in the West, for the most part, we are removed from the more apparent evils. We read about murders in the newspapers, hear about robbery’s, see the distilled horrors of war on the BBC … but truth be told, most of us will avoid the dark news. Because it paints a picture of humanity that we don’t want to see. It suggests that the darkness of men’s heart may be just as real in our own lives.
And this is why Jesus is so important. Because mankind has no cure for evil. We have no technology to remove that darkness. But Jesus – perfectly divine/perfectly human – steps into battle with evil, and defeats it resoundingly.
It is why it’s written in Colossians 1:21-23, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven.”
Jesus has conquered what man could never defeat. He has taken away the evil of our hearts. We don’t just follow Him. We need Him. God saves us from ourselves.