The devil is alive and well and living in America

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 1999, Debra Lo Guercio, all rights reserved

I don’t have much use for organized religion. But I believe in God, as evidenced by the good things in life -- kindness, creativity, caring, and most of all, love. I hear God in music, see him in art, recognize him when a scientist finds a cure for a deadly disease or a tiny gymnast flips in the air and lights on a four-inch wide board with perfect balance.

   That is God, expressing himself. He needs to express himself, and he needs us to do it. God is pure light, made visible by passing through the prism of humanity. Only through us can light stretch out into a rainbow.

   Light, made visible, is life itself. Which is how God defines himself: “I am.” God “is.” He is “existence.” And existence is life.

   Back in college, one of my biology professors defined life as growth. Without growth, there is no life. And in the little dominoes of my mind, God is life, and life must grow, and God grows through us. He needs us. We have a purpose. We are what keeps God “is”ing.

   Which is pretty cool, really, because it keeps egos in check. Your achievements are not your own, they are evidence of God growing again. No matter how wonderful that symphony you composed or that bridge you designed, you’re no better than that guy flipping burgers. God has merely chosen to express himself through you.

   But you can feel a little proud. After all, he did pick you. (Remember to say “thanks.”)

   How else can you explain the human drive to create and excel and solve and achieve? Why do we spend so much energy on these activities? Why don’t we just eat and sleep and procreate like the rest of the animals? We don’t “need” to do anything else. But God does. And he does it through us.

   Over years of observing and wondering and pondering life through distinctly rose-colored glasses, my beliefs about God have evolved. They work for me. They keep me looking for the sunny side. I have a great quote taped to my wall: “In the long run, the pessimist may be proved right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip.”


   I attribute the good things in life to God. And it’s easy to find enough kindness and beauty in the world to validate my beliefs. However, last week, I realized there is a flaw in my beliefs: My refusal to look at the other side of the coin.

   The bad things in life. How do you explain those. When people say it’s “God’s will,” I want to scream. God does not give children cancer or cause women to be raped or make one man die at the hands of another. That’s not God. That’s something else. But I never wanted to think about the “something else.”

   But last week, watching the television in grief and dismay, as students told of the horror at Columbine High School, of the killers laughing with glee as they murdered their classmates, I couldn’t deny it any more. Just as there is a good, loving force in this world, there is also a dark, hateful force.

   This force is the opposite of life, not merely the absence of growth, but an anti-life. A moving backwards, a de-evolution, a black hole in the spirit. It consumes and destroys. It is hate. It is darkness. It is death. It is the devil.

   Just as God is evidenced in human achievement, Satan is evidenced in human cruelty. How else can you explain a black man being dragged to death behind a truck? A gay student savagely beaten and left to die in the cold? A little boy with his throat slashed in a campground restroom? Two women burned to death in the trunk of a car? And now, 12 students and their teacher massacred in an average, middle class suburb.

   People keep asking “why.” They point to media frenzy, violent video games, the Internet, lack of gun control, improper parenting, and even rock music. But those are rational answers for irrational acts.

   There is no “reason” for acts of spectacular cruelty. Other than Satan. He is pure darkness, made visible by passing through the prism of humanity. Only through us can darkness stretch out into blackness. Darkness, made visible, is death itself. God “is.” Satan “is not.”

   Forget cloven feet and pointy tails and red capes. Put that on the same shelf with the Easter Bunny. And forget witches and black nail polish and Marilyn Manson. You won’t find the devil there. You’ll find him in that moment where one human being harms another.

   Light, love, life. Darkness, destruction, death. We don’t have much control over what goes on in the world. But hopefully we have some control over ourselves. We can do our best to make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time. We can do our best to be prisms for light.

   Go out today and put some color into the world.