When we read these stories from long ago, it is tempting to think that in the twenty first century that we know better, that such evil does not exist or that we can control it somehow. This week, at least 132 children and 9 staff were killed when terrorists cut through the wire fence surrounding a school in Pakistan and moved through classrooms and halls, shooting at all around them. Over a hundred people were injured. The whole community is traumatized and we are left to wonder how this could still happen. How could anyone plan to destroy so many young lives and then carry out the raid, continuing to shoot at children in room after room? The gunmen were suicide bombers and killed themselves at the end of the attack.
Today, some of the pupils put on their school uniforms and marched up to the school building, which is badly damaged and riddled with bullet holes. They know that the school is closed, but they want to re-claim their right to education and to show that they have not been intimidated by the evil that was unleashed against them. This is a remarkable act of courage and sets an example to those adults who are responsible for bringing peace into the many places of war and unrest around the world. Adults, including us, also have a responsibility to teach children the difference between justice and revenge. If we do not, then the cycle of violence answering violence will continue. Evil will always be with us. It is our response to it that matters. Praying for peace sometimes can seem so futile and yet it is the best gift that many of us can offer those around the world. After that, we can also put our money into those organisations which are actively working to bring peace, education and the basics of human life to those who are struggling. Evil can be overcome.