When Evil Shows its Ugly Face in the City of Nampa (Thoughts on Jason Cooley, Public Justice, and Neighborly Love)

I spent some time at Nampa City Acres Park, surveying the park, the community, and trying to wrap my head around the unspeakable grief a parent would experience when finding a son beaten unconscious…on a basketball court…in a park…bloodied, bruised, left for dead. Well, Jason Cooley didn’t die. He was rushed to care, spent days in an induced coma, and is now going to deal with rehabilitation of his neurological capacities. He sometimes doesn’t even recognize his own family. All of that, seemingly in the blink of an eye. If you’re unfamiliar with the events, here’s a link.

The feelings of helplessness and despair can really overtake one in a time like this. We’d like to think that if we just did this or that, then we could control, eliminate, and prevent such evil acts. While we certainly want to be prudent in matters of public safety and teaching our kids who to hang around with and also entrust them with the capacity to arbitrate matters with their peers, essentially grow up, evil can rear its ugly head in the most unexpected way, in the most unexpected manner, in the most unexpected time. I wish it weren’t so. I pray it isn’t so. 

One primary and sacred function of government is to provide justice by punishing evil, working to deter evil, bringing to justice those who carry out such heinous acts. A just and virtuous society requires the rule of law and enforcers of the peace, an ordered liberty. But even when our society functions well, evil will never be eliminated, because it’s in us. Our capacity to do harm is a frightening reality. I wish it weren’t so. And when evil shows its ugly face, and even when the perpetrators are brought to justice, the feelings of victimization will continue. It’s the deep feelings of hurt, anger, and despair that the government can’t fully propitiate. Only God and the company of loved ones sowing seeds of love and compassion can do that. It’s my prayer that Jason Cooley and family would experience that, that we, as a city, would be that company of neighbors acting in love. If we’re going to be a just and loving community, we need both: public justice and neighborly love. 

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