As the violence in Mexico continues to escalate the sense of urgency, desperation and helplessness among the people rises. This helplessness in the face of evil for many has turn into rage and a deep thirst for revenge.
This week in the small farming town of Ascension about 120 miles southwest of Juarez a gang of kidnappers met their match. These young men, who had terrorized the town for weeks, attack a small diner at breakfast time and snatched a young teenage girl as a hostage.
Immediately a frantic chase ensued as the townspeople pursued the kidnappers on horse back and in trucks and cars. Meanwhile the federal and local police also responded. The kidnappers were in three cars. In the heat of the moment one of the vehicles turned over which caused a second escape vehicle to crash in a ditch. Two of the kidnappers took off on foot only to be apprehended by the townspeople.
When the police arrived and sought to take the young men into custody the townspeople demand that they participate in the transport of the suspected criminals.
The El Paso Times reported what happened next as follows:
Thirty minutes after the crash, about 9:30 a.m., people found two alleged kidnappers a mile from the crash scene. The people attacked them.
Ignacio Ramírez said he paused to observe what was going on.
“Everywhere I looked, I saw people whose family members had been kidnapped in the past,” he said. “The hate had been accumulating from months before.”
Finally, he said, the military and the federal police separated the alleged kidnappers from the mob.
But the crowd would not drop the matter so easily.
The crowd made federal police take the alleged kidnappers in a civilian truck supervised by residents.
Many more followed the truck carrying the two boys back to the military barracks.
At the barracks, one of the boys told the mob, “See you here in 15 days,” witnesses said.
The crowd, now grown to nearly 2,000 people, exploded again. Crowd members broke into the barracks with trucks, took the two boys outside and beat them, witnesses said.
Federal police agents tried to separate the disorderly crowd from the alleged kidnappers by putting the boys inside a police vehicle for several hours. The windows were closed.
People obstructed police from helping the two boys inside the vehicle and also blocked the area where a federal police helicopter was trying to land.
About 3 p.m., a man informed the crowds that the boys were dead.
As I read this story I must admit I was deeply disturbed by what unfolded. What alarmed me as a follower of Jesus was how the evil and violence had transformed good hard-working people into the very image of what they hated. The deep desire for revenge and vengeance poisons the soul and clouds one’s judgment. In the high emotion of the moment good people can be transformed into an angry mob lusting for blood.
If justice is to prevail–the rule of law must be upheld. God issued the sword to civil servants sworn to defend innocent life not to angry mobs. I commend the townspeople for risking their lives in pursuit of the innocent girl and rescuing her but when a mob of people beat to death two young men before justice can be rightfully and legally served–evil has won the day.
In a violent world like our own Paul wrote to Romans saying:
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d]says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e] 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We must not be overcome by evil if we are to be the salt and the light of the world. We must determine to overcome evil with good. In the face of senseless violence and intimidation we cannot give in and become like the very evil we hate–if we do evil has won.