I had an awful nightmare the other night. It woke me out of a sound sleep with a racing heart and tightly clenched fists. I struggled to go back to sleep after I realized that it was only a terrible dream. What was the dream and what was so awful?
I dreamed that my son was with a group of several school-aged boys. And all of them were beating up a much smaller, younger boy who was curled in a ball and screaming for help.
This may not sound so awful to anyone reading this, but it is a definite nightmare to me for a few reasons. For starters, I believe that if my son ever engages in such an activity that I have failed as a parent. I want him to be the one who will stand up and defend those who can't defend themselves. Even if it means that he'll also be beaten up, I want him to have the courage to stand up to others and do what's right. I believe that my son will be a big kid (my hubby was a strapping 6' 2" at age 13) and I want my son to be aware that the counterbalance to his strength must be his good judgment. I also believe that people do terrible things in a group that they would never consider doing while alone. The actions of those who participate in a riot is a perfect example of what I mean. Finally, I believe that evil exists as a part of the human condition and it's up to us to be aware of our evil tendencies and actively resist it.
This nightmare reminded me of a case that has haunted me since I read about it back when I was a teenager in the early-90s. This case was so tragic and so beyond the pale that it made me feel cold inside as I read the heart-breaking details in a newsmagazine all those years ago. I truly wish that I did not remember reading about it. . .
I believe it happened in England. A toddler, around 2 or 3 years old, was kidnapped while he was out shopping with his mother. Two males approached the little guy and somehow were able to draw him away when his mother was momentarily distracted. Surveillance footage even shows that the trusting babe was holding the hand of one of his abductors as they exited the shopping center.
Only his captors weren't looking for a baby to steal. They were looking for a baby to kill.
Over the next several hours, his captors marched him a couple of miles throughout the town. When they reached a suitably quiet location, they picked him up and threw him on his head to the ground. Of course, the poor babe was hurt and screamed wildly, frightening his attackers away. I guess that they feared someone would step up to defend a screaming toddler.
No one came. The attackers returned. And, missing momma and having no one to comfort him, the poor babe willingly went back to his attackers.
They continued their death march until they reached some railroad tracks that were shrouded in a bunch of trees. At that point the attackers became killers. They threw paint in the little one's face, pushed him to the ground, threw stones & rocks at him, kicked him, and beat him with a metal pole of some sort. When his killers were through, they put him on the train tracks and left. He was still alive when they left him. I have tears streaming down my face just typing the torture that this poor babe suffered. Thankfully, time has faded the details that I can recall.
Of course, this did not happen in a vacuum. It was daytime in a city and plenty of people saw this crying babe being marched about with two males. No one helped. No one stepped in. No one was willing to get involved. All of these witnesses allowed that little boy to be ruthlessly murdered. I'm not saying that they killed him, the blame rests solely on the murderers, but I am saying that these witnesses could have helped prevent his murder and they chose not to help. I guess it's just easier for most people to look the other way. . .
Within a couple of days, the body was found. A train had cut him in half. I can't recall if he was alive or not when the train came. He was nude from the waist down. I can't recall if he suffered any sexual molestation or rape. The poor babe's mother had never left the police station since reporting her only child missing.
I hope he wasn't alive when the train came. I hope that he was outside of his body, being cradled by Jesus, throughout this vicious attack and murder. I hope that God opened Heaven to him before he suffered such unthinkable pain, fear, and loneliness.
As terrible as this crime was, it does get worse. I know, I know, it doesn't seem possible that it can get any worse. Remember that it was two males who kidnapped, tortured, and murdered this poor little soul?
The killers were only ten years old. Two ten year old boys plotted to steal, abuse, and kill a toddler. Two ten year old boys were behind this evil bloodlust.
Poor little James Bulger never had a chance against the evil part of the human condition.
I believe that evil does exist. I believe we read about it in the news every single day. I believe it is part of the human condition. And I hope and I pray that I teach my son how to always recognize and resist evil in himself and in others.
As a postscript to the tragic murder of James Bulger, I believe that his killers were only sentenced to remain in custody for 8 years. That means that they've been free for several years already. . .