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Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan.  This week, I want to talk about evil, where it is found and what to do with it.

This week’s column deals with a horrible murder that took place in Ontario, the province where I live, just a few weeks ago. Tim Bosma went missing from his Ancaster home right when I was in the middle of a speaking tour in that neck of the woods, so I saw his posters everywhere, and just really feel strongly about this case.

Tim advertised his truck on kijiji; two guys came by to see it, and he took them out for a test drive. He was never seen again. Millard was arrested a week later, and Tim’s remains were found on Millard’s property.

Tim was a strong Christian (well, he still is, as now he is face to face with his Saviour). He and his wife Sharlene and their 2-year-old daughter attended the Ancaster Christian Reformed Church, which has come alongside them wonderfully. I just ask that you keep that family in your prayers. How absolutely awful to have your husband killed like that.

Ancaster resident Sharlene Bosma spent Mother’s Day in agony, wondering about the fate of her husband Tim. After taking two guys out to test drive a truck he was selling, he was never seen by his family again. His body has now been found.

Police charged aviation heir Dellen Millard. Bosma’s truck had been located at his mother’s house. He had been identified as having been with Bosma. Yet when he was taken into custody, his lawyer, Deepak Paradkar, expressed incredulity that the police would zero in on his client. According to the CBC, Paradkar said, “He’s a very unassuming, humble person. He’s intelligent, well-educated and financially well off, so there’s no motive here.” He went on to note that Millard had attended the Toronto French School. How could someone who attended an elite private school be suspected of doing such a thing?

Forgive me for feeling a little sick to my stomach at that statement. Evil knows no social class. I do not know whether Millard is guilty or not; but I find this “why would a wealthy person do this?” statement offensive in the extreme. Are we supposed to believe that rich=good and poor=bad?

A few years ago I read a brilliant book by psychiatrist M. Scott Peck of The Road Less Traveled fame. In People of the Lie, he wrote about the most frustrating part of his practice: coming face to face with evil. And evil people, he thinks, can’t be cured, short of a major spiritual intervention. What they need is a priest, not a doctor.

Over and over again Scott Peck saw in his office people whose state of mind couldn’t be explained by their upbringing, or by psychiatric theory, or by conditioning. He saw people who chose to lie when the truth wouldn’t have harmed them. He saw people who cared nothing of those around them, while still giving the impression that their love could not be questioned. He saw people who would lie to your face, but when accused of it would question your sanity. These people were dedicated to deception for one reason: to deflect any responsibility for their own moral choices.

It’s not the fact that evil people do wrong that is so terrible, says Peck. All of us do wrong. But, Peck says, “the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.” It’s narcissism to the nth degree.

And these people are everywhere. They’re doctors, and lawyers, and executives. They’re married. They look outwardly normal, but they cause chaos wherever they go. Many of us have experienced this in our families or at our workplaces. There’s someone we could never quite get along with, but every time we question them they turn it around so that we’re the ones with the problem. They can’t be pinned down. They’re slippery. They’re slimy. And they’re scary.

Peck ended his investigation weary and disheartened. Psychiatry does not have the answers for evil people. They can’t be “cured”, except perhaps by an exorcist. Therefore, it’s time to call a spade a spade and not muddy it up with diagnoses making it sound as if these people aren’t culpable.

So, Mr. Paradkar, I don’t know if your client is guilty, but I do know that rich people can cause havoc just as much as poor people can. And until we admit that evil has no bounds and no excuse, we’ll be living a lie as much as they are. Instead of lies, let’s tell the truth: Evil exists. Evil can be anywhere. And evil needs to be resisted, not excused.

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