I recently attended the sentencing hearing of a man who plead guilty to the sex trafficking of three teenage girls. I was well informed of the crimes and had an image in my mind as to what this man would look like. What I saw was not the face of pure evil that I had envisioned. Instead, I saw a man. A regular looking guy who seemed truly remorseful for what he had done. The man was not inherently evil. No one is. Prior to this crime he was living a middle class life, supporting his daughter, he had no criminal record. He then lost his job and made the “business decision” to sell human beings. He says he did it to protect his daughter from foster care. What he hoped to avoid his actions made happen. She has now spent the last five years in foster care and will spend the rest of her youth there as he goes to federal prison. I questioned many things as I listened to his rationalizations, but what was strikingly clear to me is that evil is very real and we are naïve to think it is not constantly trying to attack us.
This man allowed greed and evil to take control of his life and the result was disastrous for all involved. The pain he caused will continue to be felt for generations. While most of us, thank God, will never be involved in such a heinous crime either as victim, seller, or buyer we all have the choice of good or evil every day, many times a day. And the reality is the ramifications of those choices, good and bad, will have untold effects on our lives and the rest of the 6 billion people on the planet. Often the path of truth and light is difficult and so avoided, but I have seen time and again people who have chosen the “easy” path spend years working to undo the damage that path brought. Living a life of truth and good requires sacrifice. Should you ever doubt that, look to the cross, where the most profound examples of truth, good, and sacrifice meet. The effects of that choice have been felt for generations and will continue to be felt for all eternity. In the end, good wins, but let us not forget we are in the middle of the battle.