It’s funny how the truths of life sometimes reveal themselves. Case in point; I was sitting in church last week listening to the kid’s choir, my young son was one of the singers. They were singing about following God and doing what’s right, it was adorable and as a parent I was proud of him. There are lots of things kids can do, singing in the church choir is one of the good things. I was listening and enjoying the sounds as they began singing a song that included lyrics along the line of “God give me a clean heart”. 

It was then that one of those truths snuck up on me. The comparison between these kids; these absolutely innocent little children and the words of the song – asking God to give them a good and clean heart – that it hit me like a shovel across the forehead. 

There was nothing more angelic and decent than these kids. Hearing the words and their voices struggling to stay in tune, their cute little smiles directed to the parents and grandparents in the audience revealed the essence of all that is right in the world. At 7, 8 and 9 years old they have never done anything “Bad” or evil. Theirs is a world of good to be cherished.  

The biggest problems these kids have are arguments with a sister or brother, dealing with the injustices of the “T” ball field or the fear of movie monsters and imagined creatures that live under the bed. And that’s the way it should be.

This wonderful scene got me thinking and made me realize that the safe world of childhood I was watching is not the reality that all children are blessed with. Many kids in our society have to deal with real flesh and blood monsters. The ones that beat them, burn them, abuse them and rob their innocence; monsters that sometimes go by the name of mom, dad, uncle, and boyfriend.

We see stories everyday of the 3 month old baby that’s shaken to death by someone who was supposed to care for them, the parents that starve their children or the vilest of all, and the parents that kill their own kids. Seeing and hearing the children’s choir pointed out a distinct picture of the two different realities, one good, one evil and both painted on a canvas of innocence. 

This moment of clarity pushed me to look at the larger societal view of good and evil. In recent weeks the news networks have been abuzz about some of the presidential candidates and their comments about good and evil. Listening to some of the coverage one could get the impression that anyone who believes that good and evil are real must be a soft headed fool, naïve, or just plain stupid. 

The way this topic was reported it would seem that accepting as fact the existence of good and evil indicates you must be disconnected from reality, that in truth there is no such thing and everyone, no matter what terrible things they do, are really only misunderstood, deprived in some way, or their actions were the logical and appropriate response to an unfair life situation. 

I found this point of view surprising. Life experience has shown me over and over again that evil is not some made up concept to keep the masses in line, it lives and breathes and can be found doing its business all around us. Ask any police officer if good and evil are real. They will tell you there is no question about it. We have all seen the face and deeds of real evil in the actions of robbers, killers, drug dealers, abusers, mindless haters and those who disrespect anyone. 

The truth is some people are evil and their actions reveal that very clearly, all we have to do is look at what they do without an excuse filter. By looking at what a person does it is obvious that evil is not based on a person’s: race, gender, orientation or religion, it is based on their actions; plain and simple. Where the motivation and drive to do evil comes from is up for debate, but evil is real.

Likewise real good can be found all around us too and is demonstrated in the care we take for our neighbors and friends, in the acceptance of someone else’s decision to love who they love, in the act of kindness we pay a stranger in need no matter who they are, in the sacrifices made by countless numbers of people who donate their time and energy to help the less fortunate among us, and in the voices of angels in a children’s choir.

The real danger in losing sight of the fact that good and evil are real aspects of our human condition, lies not in the theoretical world of modern thought, but in the consequences that follow. Good must be heralded, appreciated, and valued. Evil must be acknowledged, ostracized and banished from our hearts and the world we inhabit. It is only then that we, as a people, can achieve our potential.

I have been CHASING JUSTICE throughout my career friends. My goal is to be THE VOICE for the voiceless. Do watch for my new talk show on America Out Loud, appropriately named CHASING JUSTICE… premiering April 2018. Reach out with your own stories and thoughts on justice… JPanagro@Americaoutloud.com 

Joseph Pangaro is a retired Police Lieutenant from the Township of Ocean, Monmouth County, NJ. During his 27 year career, Lieutenant Pangaro served in many capacities. After nine years as a patrol officer, he was transferred to the detective bureau where he served for 12 years. During that time, Lt. Pangaro prepared and executed hundreds of search warrants, testified in numerous high profile criminal court cases and excelled in the area of criminal investigations including; homicides, sexual assaults, drug crimes, fraud, burglary, juvenile investigations, economic crimes, vice crimes, quality of life crimes and other crimes of violence. He has acted in undercover capacities and worked with numerous local, county, state, and federal agencies. Joseph Pangaro served as a sergeant in the detective bureau, supervising a group of highly motivated and active officers in the unit as well as the “Quality of Life” unit.

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