Incident in progress…
Update 4:40 pm – conditions changed perhaps for better… maybe ok…
Update 8:02 pm – people got tired of being dramatic in escalation. Bored is good. Over for now.
Incident in progress…
Update 4:40 pm – conditions changed perhaps for better… maybe ok…
Update 8:02 pm – people got tired of being dramatic in escalation. Bored is good. Over for now.
It’s been well over 3 1/2 years ago that Officer Mader put his off-the-charts skill sets in deescalation into action, and saved the life of a guy wanting to do a suicide-by-cop, well, until another officer just shot the guy three times to the body and once to the head (the latter being the instant kill shot). Then Officer Mader was fired for not firing his gun himself. Mader went on to win a $175,000 settlement for wrongful termination. But then he had to move out of his hometown as the harassment was too great for he and his family. “He’s a coward!” it was said. No. Deescalation is not cowardice. It is supreme bravery if the circumstances were right. It just seems that the officer who arrived in media res might have asked what the deal was. Maybe he did. I wasn’t there.
I would like to share just a couple of incidents about deescalation, one related to me by a Sheriff who did the same as Officer Mader as told to me by that Sheriff himself, and another I personally saw during a heavily armed incident. Both stunning stories. I do this because I’ve seen the same off-the-charts skill sets in deescalation more recently. Hugely impressive. Let’s start with something I saw myself:
 The above picture is the entrance to the Fijian Parliament. I was there in the year 2000 taking over the courses for the chair of the Scripture department of the Pacific Regional Seminary which is situated to the right just some hundreds of yards away. The problem was that all the students, staff, faculty and administration to a man, to a woman, had all fled as far away as possible, even to their own countries, to avoid a somewhat violent coup d’état with 21 hostages, members of the parliament, including the Prime Minister, that was taking place in the parliament itself.
Being left behind, as it were, and being behind the last military check point, left to the whims of the hostage takers, I decided – me being me – to read all of the Bible, cover to cover, writing marginal notes and cross indexing everything in my mind and on those pages, all while walking the surf on that southeastern seaboard of the tiny country, directly in front of the parliament. :-)
Sometimes I would end up walking along the road that bordered the sometimes too violent surf, even right at the entrance of the parliament itself, even when some of the hostage takers were also out front on the road. At that point, the side of the road sported a smoking, ashen, burned out fruit bar / restaurant, and now mounting skeletons of cattle the hostage takers had been eating. Deescalation skills came in handy a number of times when I was approached. There were plenty of murders around the mostly peaceful country in now extremely tense times.
Then, just from the POV of the picture above, I saw a dozen soldiers on the one side and a dozen on the other aggressively walk-running toward each other just at this point. They all had their rifles brandished in front of them, pointing at each other, yelling whatever it is that one yells in such a situation. I ran to the left of the picture, trying to get cover from any violence that seemed sure to break out, but I must say that I had a front row seat to what would now follow. There were plenty of bullets that would zip through the seminary grounds (also right next to me, repeatedly… ah… that sound of bullets passing by your head…), so it wasn’t as if anyone was hesitant about pulling the trigger for any or no reason.
When they came together I witnessed the most incredible restraint-as-deescalation I have ever seen or can ever imagine seeing. Both sides did a kind of dance in which they would lunge at each other in the air – pointing their rifles directly at the opposition – only to drop their rifles mid-air (still secured by slings) so that their hands were free to grab the ends of the barrels of the rifles of the enemy soldiers pointing right at them. There would be a tussle for the control of weapons, but then the lunger would retreat having yelled some choice words. After some long minutes of this – and it started to get boring even as they got tired of this surreal dance – the verbal assaults turned into a somewhat more intelligible back and forth between the two leaders of the clashing parties. Surely these were demands being made and such like, you know, like delivering pizza, or re-writing the constitution. The Fijian way. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone went to school with everyone. Everyone went through United Nations military training with each other.
In other words, it’s alright to know your enemy, what he will and will not at all do in certain situations. No one was going to fire a weapon in such a situation. Zero chance. Is deescalation by restraint allowed? It can be dangerous, but yes. There may be a life or two lost here or there because of misreading of certain signs or subterfuge about the same, but hundreds or thousands of lives may be saved because of that restraint.
 But even more to the point, let’s take a more local law enforcement suicide-by-cop attempt that took place somewhere here in Western North Carolina (I know exactly where) and told to me by the Sheriff involved, who did the same thing as Officer Mader in the video above. That Sheriff has been reelected many times.
What happened was that the perp had purposely caused a scuffle in town, waiting for law enforcement to show up. It was the Sheriff himself. The perp ran to the nearest creek, some 1,600 feet. The Sheriff caught him, but he broke loose and jumped in the creek, now brandishing a gun and shooting “at” the Sheriff. I put “at” in scare quotes because the shots were way wide. The Sheriff immediately understood that the guy meant him no harm, but was wanting a suicide-by-cop. The Sheriff then went in after him, the perp continuing to pull the trigger, firing more shots “at” the Sheriff. The Sheriff simply tackled him, took the gun, and dragged the perp to the river bank, cuffing him and marching him back into town. The guy goes to jail. A year later, the perp asked to see the Sheriff, who went to see his “assailant.” Sure enough, the perp admitted he had been attempting to do a suicide-by-cop, and thanked the Sheriff for having saved his life with restraint as deescalation. Amazing.
The thing is, you have to keep level headed in such situations. You have to have lots of scenario training, including suicide-by-cop training. Not having that doesn’t make for a happy ending. But sometimes there are those who are super trained up:
So, however sad the situation, that was really funny. Hahahahaha. Sorry, I played this multiple times. I laughed every time.
I mean, just think about it. How many suicide-by-cop incidents, with the perp brandishing a gun, have resulted in no one being injured. Quite a few. Remember the one in which the guy just sat in a chair on the middle of a road after a spat with his girlfriend and brandished a gun? They didn’t shoot him. They knew what was going on. They quietly got a sniper in place. The sniper guy shot and hit the trigger mechanism of the gun, making the gun fly out of his hands. The perp guy didn’t even lose any fingers. But maybe some departments don’t have snipers, etc., etc. I know. I know.
And, yes, I know, all cases are different and very many times you do have to pull the trigger on someone regardless of what they say or do signifying a suicide-by-cop attempt. They are just too dangerous, too out of control, too wild. It is what it is.
Analogy with all matters spiritual in evangelization: Do we ever dismiss anyone ever because they seem to have gone too far, that they are too far gone? It’s not to be done. Our Lord is working on everyone. As long as we are alive, that in itself is proof that our Lord is giving us a chance to get to heaven.
Kids can be horrific bullies. Kids can be ultra-conformist. If insulted, it’s pretty much 100% certain that kids will take the insult to heart, including the bullies, who are, by the way, the most cowardly, the most projecting of themselves upon others: it’s not them with issues; it’s others! Kids without an identity apart from manipulated reactions to social media use are thus brought to the lowest common denominator of death. If you thought such drama to be limited to those we wrongly call “adults”, you’re wrong; it’s a power thing, even with kids.
Generally speaking, kids don’t have the emotional wherewithal to withstand this kind of assault, or the ability to assault from behind a little screen without having to answer to people right in front of you. That’s why we call young people minors, giving them a different status, limiting their participation in society in all sorts of ways and on all sorts of levels – or at least we used to do that.
But with smart phones, all bets are off. The put-downs, insults, threats and extortion, the sexting, the manipulation, the marginalization… it’s all there, just like with adults. We’re all subject to the weakness of original sin, but kids are less apt to be confronting the world with a full sense of identity and therefore reason and balance.
So, what’s the solution? Merely take away or limit use of smart phones? That’s part of it. The real underlying cause, however, is a lack of identity. Social media has become the identity of kids. But why?
People are seeking self-esteem in the face of a fallen human nature that is so easily manipulated particularly when we have no sense of identity, no base, no foundation, as it were, from which to interact with the world. And people fall, and as they fall, they are smashed down and mocked all the more by those who are just like them, only worse in bullying and cowardice. Seeking self-esteem, they make the absurd claim for themselves that what they do in leveling ranker and insults at others, in hurting themselves with immoral behaviors as manipulated by others, is to do the right thing, because everyone is that way, because in that way they are getting for themselves an identity, however cruel, however much this beats oneself up. “I’m me!” they cry in their self-provided self-esteem, beating themselves up, beating others up. And now they’re adults, they think, being able, however, not to act from any real identity, but in being all the more cruel with those with whom one has chosen to give one’s life in being in mere reaction to them, still defining one’s identity by way of reaction to another. How very mature!
So, again, what’s the solution to a lack of identity, to a lack of self-esteem? Religion.
There’s a politically incorrect answer: religion, which, as a virtue of justice, renders to God that which is due to God, our Creator. God expects us to use our free will to be His good creatures. To use our free will we have to have a base, a foundation of identity from which to act, and this is uncomfortable as people are used to having no identity, to being in mere reaction to others. We don’t like this because we are immediately confronted with the fact that in our weak human nature after original sin we have no way to establish an identity from which to act. For fallen creatures to all of a sudden be good creatures – still in all our weakness in this world – we need the intervention of our Creator, His forgiveness, and the wherewithal – in a bond of friendship, of humble thanksgiving with Him – to have an identity once again, a real identity, that of a creature walking in the presence of his Creator.
Religion: God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to stand in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, to re-establish us before Himself, thankful to Him for giving us our identity which we threw away with original sin and whatever of our own. Jesus rendered to His Father, on our behalf, that which God the Father is due. Jesus is religion Incarnate. That’s religion. That’s all it is. Nothing scary. It’s all Jesus. We have our identity in Jesus.
Self-esteem is no longer sought in reaction to others, which is entirely contrary to self-esteem, making oneself lose one’s self-esteem. Self-esteem in Jesus is now provided by Jesus forgiving us and establishing a friendship with us. He says: “I call you friends.”
We get self-esteem by going to Confession and being brought into this friendship with Jesus. Jesus Himself wanted it done this way. Sin offends both God and neighbor, no matter what, no matter how private – even the “privacy” of hiding behind a screen in social-media. Being reconciled isn’t just a matter of saying, “Sorry, God!” Jesus wants us to be reconciled with Himself and all of us. Saint Paul speaks of this as Jesus being the Head of the Body and we the members of the Body. The priest represents all the other members of the Mystical Body of Christ. When the priest gives absolution of sin in the first person singular – “I absolve you…” – it is Christ Jesus who is speaking, and we are reconciled to both Jesus and our neighbor.
Mind you, the guilt of sin being put aside, while that is a great thing, is only the tiniest part of the story in obtaining self-esteem and identity. The absolution brings about forgiveness by way of flooding the soul with sanctifying grace, with the friendship of Jesus.
Self-esteem? “Jesus, God, loves me!” “Jesus, God, loves us!”
Identity? “I am found by Jesus to be one in friendship with Him. He gives me the base, the foundation, to have an identity in Him. In His friendship I need not give in to the temptation to be in mere reaction to others, to the temptation to be down to the lowest common denominator of death. In Jesus, in His friendship, I can even do something good for others, helping to introduce them all the more to the liberty of wholesomeness, of integrity, of honesty, of goodness and kindness, of friendship with Christ Jesus, who will come to the judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. Maranatha! Come once again to us, Lord Jesus!”
That’s a bit counter-intuitive, isn’t it? Get self-esteem by confessing one’s sins? Yep. I love it. Christianity is full of irony, the wit and wisdom of Jesus. He loves us. Truly.
Wild flowers near the hermitage. Beautiful, eh? Just behind them, between them and the trees you see in the background is a marsh that’s, say, four feet deep at the deepest and maybe ten feet deep when the drainage is in proper order.
It’s said that some old guy was murdered and thrown in there long, long ago. And then there’s the kid that was killed just there, held under water by his “friends”, but he escaped their grasp only to be held under a second time, and then a third time, and didn’t come up again, though it was, of course, as all such things, declared to be a suicide, you know, because we’re all nice people and those kinds of not-nice things don’t happen around here.
Meanwhile, flowers for the Immaculate Conception grow in abundance, not as if they ignoring such gratuitous violence and the denying of it, but so as to say that Jesus came into this world so as to make all things new, taking all that violence on Himself.
I’ve written previously of this relatively recent incident – a conversation at a meal at a private house with many military officers and others – but I refrained from mentioning the involvement, so to speak, of Pope Francis in that conversation. Perhaps I should be more fulsome in these hectic, confusing, dark times. Here’s more detail about that evening with some of the top of our intelligence community. I think it’s safe to say all this now, two full months later. If it had anything to do with Pope Francis in the first place, whatever was happening with the murder as “suicide” thing is a danger which is surely now passed, I guess, maybe. But one should keep up with situational awareness, including those around Pope Francis. After all, there are those who wish harm upon the Holy Father, who do not hesitate to use extortion. Have we forgotten this scene with Mehmet Ali Agca?
I should emphasize that this was a strange evening. In walking into the house… well… it took like 40 minutes to get beyond the entrance as a discussion on what happens at GTMO was so intense, but I digress. Back to the mid-meal bit about Pope Francis:
Intel officer lady standing up and changing the topic: “Hey Father Byers: Pope Francis… Is his papacy viable? Is he worth it?” [This question about “it”, that is, making an intervention on his behalf, was clearly the point of this encounter with some twenty people, many who are in counterintelligence, counterterrorism and are at the top of their game. Everything went silent at this question and some of the main players were able to catch my eyes while they pointed at her, at her question, nodding their heads so as to say: This is it, the reason for this whole evening: Pay attention to the question. For that moment you could hear a pin drop. One stated the importance of the question to the immediate agreement of the others. The question about Pope Francis being “worth it” refers to… what? Since this crowd was making a big deal out of their knowing about every terrorist plot there is as a preface to this question, what am I supposed to think? It’s only a guess, but it is probable that they were taking seriously one of the many thousands of terrorist murmurings that are always being mumbled round about against the Vatican and the Holy Father, both “chatter” and direct threats. It’s only a guess, but it seems a question was posed higher up as to whether making an intervention on behalf of Pope Francis would be in the interests of these United States. Pope Francis, mind you, states that President Trump is not a Christian. Pope Francis, mind you, can offer Mass on the South side of the border fence. Pope Francis, mind you, doesn’t hesitate for a second to interfere in political / economic controversy. On and on. So, Pope Francis being “worth it” is a question. Indeed, I have to think that even the details of methodology were discovered, as we will see below, the whole murder as “suicide” thing.]
Father Byers to all present (paraphrased, as this part of the evening lasted about an hour): “Always, no matter what, any Pope’s security is worth an intervention. Stopping anything untoward against the leader of 1.3 billion people benefits the common good on so many levels and in so many ways. We believe that the papacy is not just some office, stuff to do, but is founded on the person of the successor of Peter himself. To strike at him is to make an attack on the One who has constituted him as Bishop of Rome. But let me tell you why in particular Pope Francis is ‘worth it.'” [A most intense discussion ensues for about an hour. At about the 45 minute mark, this happened…]
A senior GTMO interrogator knowing just about every terrorist plot and clearly with an ax to grind intel officer to me, shaking his head in rejection of my arguments: “Pffft!”
Father Byers baiting the same Senior GTMO interrogator: “Hey! You would know a best friend of mine who lives not quite around here, but, you know, right in this region. He would get permissions exclusively from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – not the Chiefs – but only from the Chairman. He’s the one who would deliver detainees from black site to black site all around the world. We’ll call him a logistics guy. You would have met him many times. He would know you well.” [Since this conversation I’ve come to know yet another deliverer of detainees, logistics guy, who has been to GTMO many times. Interesting. It seems I’m getting to know all of them.]
Senior interrogator at GTMO: [He didn’t respond other than with two unmistakable tell-tale body language signs]:
Top counterterrorism, counterintelligence guy to me, obviously the senior officer in this discussion but privately, now at the end of the meal and making our way outside the house: “I think you are right about Pope Francis.” [I was giving an impossibly positive spin on Pope Francis’ actions, trying to demonstrate that he’s worth the effort to save with an intervention. I think he repeated some four times in two minutes as we were walking outside and then again outside that he thinks that I’m right about Pope Francis. So then he says:] “I have an assignment for you.” [“assignment” – he’s baiting to find out if I’m the guy who stole my identity decades ago so as to do “assignments,” or if I’m me. Perhaps he knows I can have a chat with the head of security at the Vatican.] “Pay close attention to what Bill Binney [NSA metadata predictor of critical incidents and then whistle blower] says is the first thing to know about himself, that he would never intentionally commit suicide.” [He repeated that, emphasizing, for the sake of my assignment, that he would never intentionally commit suicide. Mind you, Bill Binney had not been mentioned that entire evening. That’s the first time I had ever heard of him. I’m guessing that all this murder as “suicide” thing refers instead to Pope Francis, since, as I say, in the midst of all this, this guy keeps repeating that he thinks I’m right about Pope Francis. I’m connecting the dots here, and I know I’m only guessing, but it seems that there was enough metadata to predict an op over against Pope Francis, one that would involve murder made to look as suicide. How devastating would that be for the Church and the world? The darkness and despair would be hard to imagine.]
To be even more fulsome, I should also include here that other chess pieces also came up in the evening’s conversation, including the demise of Miriam Waldu, the “Front of House” for Pope Francis who was murdered a couple years ago in the midst of the gay-marriage referendum of Italy. She was a shot over the bow. Extortion. Strange that her case was jacked up to a full blown murder investigation almost immediately and then absolutely nothing has been said of her since then. Nothing. As I’ve said previously, I think she was the one the FBI had been bragging to me about, a girl from ultra dirt poor Eritrea snatched up by our intel when it was happenstance noticed that she was the best in the world for instantaneous face recognition, able to recite the relevant biography for any of many thousands of pictures shown to her quickly only once, perfect, then, for “Front of House” for the leader of 1.3 billion people.
Another similar person in the employ of the Holy See came up as well. That guy seemed to have plenty of malice about him, and so I unmasked him. Sorry. I’m the King’s good servant but God’s first. You know the drill. That part of the discussion during the meal was all about his “demise” by way of what I still hold to have been a surely reversible cardiac incident. He was an Italian CIA asset working in the CDF. His identity and intelligence connection was confirmed for me not only by his American trainer – a close CIA friend – but by the head of intel / security at the Vatican).
I can’t imagine what kind of extortion Pope Francis is under, but that’s a story for later.
Of course, just because the blog slowed down for a while doesn’t mean that things haven’t been at breakneck speed. I’m still racing around to the shut-ins and the hospitals and nursing homes (the picture above being an on-the-way shot. The blog slowing down for just a bit could mean that things have been moving along faster than ever. I hope that doesn’t mean motus in fine velocior. Let’s just say: motus velocior.
Someone showed up recently – Army (counter)intel for years and now a handler for another rather important counterterrorism intel guy – to insist on giving me what he called an “assignment”, namely, considering the fact that if the demise of someone, obviously known to me (an insurance policy) were to come about such a person will not deliberately have committed suicide (a method of the CIA). Obviously there is a very specific person with a very specific intention to murder another very specific person in a way that makes it look like suicide and I should know, of all people, that that isn’t going to be a suicide but rather a murder. There were five individuals known to me who were individuated. So, there’s some sort of ultimatum being provided about what, I don’t know – or else – so that I had better stop whatever it is I’m doing that counterterrorism is interested in having me stop pursuing. I mean, there are a couple of things, one, in fact, that is rather far reaching and which involves counterterrorism and which would be embarrassing to a lot of people. I’ve been spending some time consulting on this with some rather in-the-know people, on a Federal level.
If anyone knows anything about me its that I don’t cave in to pressure. Ever. No compromise. Never. What is life if one sells out honesty and integrity and goodness and kindness and truth and respect for others, for individuals without whom there is no common good?
Meanwhile, I love being the country parish priest who brings Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament to people. But I would never compromise to keep that privilege either. :-)
This massive cross is at the entrance to the property on which the hermitage is to be found. The neighbor is a welder and created this from the downspouts that were being replaced at the parish church which is to be found way down the mountain.
This is where I often come for my day off, during which I often get in some target practice. As it is, I’m practicing quite a bit, as, at Thanksgiving, I may well be here once again, and an old friend will be attendance with some other extended family. The old friend may well have some special effects, if you will, to try out while doing a bit more target practice, or scenario based training and drills.
For those who are a bit cynical of all this “violence”, please know that all this can be quite healing, the get-togethers and the special effects and conversation about old times and hopes of heaven and the present trouble-making we all get into happily. We’re just trying to deal with the mistake of this old friend’s top-tier buddy who took too many pain killers the other week, leaving a small child of whom he had custody, the wife having abandoned them long ago. I wonder if the military provides for dependents in such circumstances. Anyone?
If you know what “top-tier” means, then you know that that buddy, *David*, had seen a hell of a lot of hell already in his short 39 years. These USSOCOM operators are made up of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Green Berets, Delta and the Navy SEALs DEVGRU.
Hey! An idea! Soup kitchens at thanksgiving are often busy places. Whatever you might do there, how about one other thing… Do you know any Vets who are stuck in V.A. hospitals who would enjoy a family thanksgiving even if their own families have abandoned them? Don’t know anyone? But the hospital might be able to tell you if there is anyone who is eligible for a day trip. Just a thought. I mean, after all, the way to celebrate thanksgiving is to say Thank You in an effective way, right? Yes. We say thanks to God, but the second commandment, love of neighbor as oneself, is like the first commandment, love of God, right? Yes. Just a thought…
FoxNews carried this AP story: Crocodile attacks Australian teen who jumped into river on dare. It reminds me of my childhood when a kid I knew, who wasn’t my friend, would dare me to do something which would certainly most likely bring about grave injury or death. I think I was a bit autistic as a kid and he knew it. Some autistic kids do grow out of it just a bit. The spectrum is very broad. I was an easy target. Somehow I just didn’t do what he wanted. I’m thinking this was my guardian angel making me just too stunned that he would ask this, and so was unable to wrap my brain around a such a thing. If I remember correctly, it was something like this:
Mind you, this wasn’t said like a typical “Go jump in a lake” brush off. Instead, in the circumstances, the pressure was really put on. I think my eyes just glazed over and he got tired of this and he went elsewhere. In looking back I have to wonder just how much his lack of a good experience with the father of his family affected his perspective in life. Although it seems he spent a lot of time with me from that list, these were instead momentary, purposed encounters. And that was the end of that.
Having said all that, we do have even more deadly dares of suicide coming to us all the time from Saint Paul and Jesus, all of Sacred Scripture really, the old die to yourself so as to live for Christ dynamic. I’ll tell you this. That dare is a lot more enthralling, captivating, necessitating, compelling, but it’s incomparably more difficult to wrap one’s mind around however much it makes sense. The reason for that is we don’t have the gumption to do it, to die to ourselves to live for Christ. That comes only from the grace, the love, the friendship with our Lord that He provides to us, He having taken the dare, if you will, to lay down His life for us that was issued by our dear Heavenly Father on our behalf. Jesus jumped right down to this earth. And we did what He knew we would do, therefore gaining the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, standing in our stead, the innocent for the guilty: “Father, forgive them!” We need but ask Jesus for the grace to say with love: “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Meanwhile, I wonder if all that imprudent fearlessness of my provocateur had an effect on me after all. I mean, how many terrorists (a number of whom one way or the other committed suicide) have I gone out of my way to speak with? How many impossibly dangerous situations have I been in on purpose, bullets whizzing by? I think all the challenges as a kid made me think about the distinction between taking one’s life just to do it and putting oneself in circumstances in which one might well be hurt, even mortally, but for a good end. That might have prepared to begin to listen to those words about dying to oneself to live for Jesus. I admit I’m a bit slow with that one, a bit afraid, a bit weak. Actually a lot weak. But Jesus is very good and kind and patient. I’ll ask my guardian angel to smack me down so that I don’t use that as an excuse for complacency. My prayer is: “Jesus, please, don’t help me; instead, just kill me off to myself so that I live just for you.” Words are one thing. Actuality is another. But: “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Lastly: I have zero animosity for that kid, who now must be getting on toward 60 years old (older than me). I think he’s had what anyone might call a fairly daring life as well. I just hope he’s taking up Jesus’ dare to take up one’s cross and follow Him, dying to ourselves to live for Him.
Below, some bits of my autobiography are provided which speak to more aggression from others who are hurting to the point of suicide. I include these experiences here for the express purpose of speaking to some few individuals who should know better, who really need to stop their corruption. People are hurting, and they need to help them instead of encouraging them to hurt themselves and others all the more with all their social engineering and self-congratulations in their lust for power and, it would seem, their lust for lust. Here are the previous articles in this series:
It was now the Summer before entering my sophomore year in what was already my second high school (we had moved). I was in a sauna with a couple of boys of the same school, who were just a year older than myself, with whom I had been swimming at the University’s brand new athletics building sporting an Olympic sized pool. One of them all of a sudden got aggressive and was getting ready to do the rape thing on me, saying that I needed to be “initiated” into my new school, but his friend, horrified, grabbed him and gave him the lecture of his life, stopping him. Poor kid. He was killed in what was reported officially as an accident the next Summer in an equally untoward circumstance. People conjectured that he might have taken his own life. They should know. He had done what he did right in front of them.
People suffer in hidden agony, crunching in on themselves, and sometimes try to draw others, for self-comfort, into their misery, sometimes with great alacrity and niceness, sometimes with violence and aggression, almost always, if young like this, in an effort to make sense of the hell they are living in because of circumstances imposed on them. He was one of the most popular kids in that entire region, in that entire part of the state. All that those who suffer need to know is that any misery, however hidden by popularity it may be, can be understood and thus sorted out by letting Christ into one’s life. He’s always with us. Always. We need but look up. And speak to Him.
The stats are now – what? – one in thirteen kids attempting suicide in the United States? Yep (at the writing of this, some years ago). That’s skyrocketed proportionate to the sexualization of kids from pre-school onward, right? Also that. Anyway…
The following Spring there was a man in perhaps his early forties who had been stalking me for some months. You have to understand that this was all perfectly legal back in the day. No longer, thank God. Now that we had moved out into the country, with rolling hills and forests and dirt roads and really long stretches between houses, this kind of thing could easily happen. If I would be walking in the forest, anywhere, there he would be. If I would be walking along the road, there he would be. He had attacked a neighbor boy (a few miles away through the woods) a couple of years earlier, dragging him off his horse right on to the front lawn of the boy’s own house. The police were called but nothing really came of it.
I was wary. He was a real predator. For the umpteenth time, he was now trailing me along a dirt road cutting through the forest. He was driving an unbelievably filthy red pickup truck only as fast as I would walk. If I stopped, he stopped. If I ran, he sped up. I hoped he didn’t have a gun. I was really getting sick of these shenanigans. I had already fired warning shots for his benefit many times in the past when I just happened to have a rifle with me. I had already evaded him many times by running into the woods, almost literally flying around trees, down ravines, across swamps and creeks. But every time I did this I would be covered with a severe rash of poison ivy, which was pretty much everywhere in central Minnesota. That might not sound so bad, but I really suffered from it, with whole patches of skin falling off, oozing with clear yellow liquid. And besides, running on the wings of the wind with my somewhat crippled legs didn’t help my mobility for quite a while after any such escape. It really destroyed me. So this running was just no longer an option for me. I had to end this, right here, right now. But I did not have a gun with me.
I figured I could just beat him unconscious with my bare fists if I had to, leaving him to be found by the police. For all of my being a bit cripplely in the legs, I was in excellent physical condition and extremely agile = able to get out of any situation. I never learn. As in years gone by with the Cadillac Limousine stalker, I turned and walked straight to the truck. Stupidly, I figured I was getting good at this kind of thing. The first thing I did was taunt him to run me over. I knew I could easily jump out of the way. Things could then turn ugly, but I was again filled to overflowing with adrenaline. I really was very sarcastic.
When he offered me a ride – as I had suspected – I jumped in and he immediately started driving just a bit faster than I could run, making jumping out quite dangerous. His driving slowly was a thousand times more annoying than my being followed. What a horrifically filthy vehicle. I tried in any number of ways to interrogate him as to why he was always following me, but he never said a word. But then I gave him what was perhaps the lecture and reprimand of his life. But then my mind was racing as to what to do when we came up to where my house was another mile down the road. Would he stop? Would I jump, regardless of consequences? To my surprise, and dismay, he turned up the long drive. This could get nasty, thought I. We had guns at home. I knew how to use them.
As soon as we arrived I got out, but so did he. I continued lecturing him, and told him to leave. He didn’t answer. He refused to go. I went into our garage. But he wasn’t going anywhere, not for five minutes, not for ten. What was he plotting? I had a family to protect. I should have called the police, but we lived way, way out in the middle of nowhere. And stalking was not illegal. And I had accepted a ride. Right? I’m so stupid.
So, instead, I got our trusty Remington .22 and brought it outside, filling the rifle with plenty of bullets in plain view, inviting him to leave and never come back. He wouldn’t go. Just as I was raising the rifle to shoot the gas tank of his pickup truck for as many times as it took to make it explode, my mom called me in. Rats! Ever obedient, I went in. Her presence, after all, put him off. Just when I was starting to have a bit of fun. After that, I never saw him again. That was smart on his part.
Yet, I still regret not having pulled the trigger a few times. Sometimes people need to be woken up. And it would have been cool to watch a vehicle blow up. Now, having said all that, I actually didn’t want to hurt him if I could help it. I had met enough hurting people in my life to know that he might well have suicide on his mind. Indeed, I think that this was his bid to commit suicide, you know, like someone who aims a plastic water pistol, though realistic looking, at police officers, threatening them, charging them, aiming at them with obvious intent to kill, only to get shot to death, just like they wanted.
I told my father about all this, and his response surprised me somewhat, but what he said was good advice. The sum total of his remarks was this: “Pray for him.” He said this with a bit of sternness. It was not a suggestion, but a command. My father, you have to understand, knew something of the power of prayer. O.K., so… Our Father, who art in heaven…
I think that if victims of sexual abuse would pray for their abusers, there would be a great deal of healing going on, at least for the victims, whose act of charity would bring them the blessing of no longer being controlled by any emotional scarring that whatever abuser may have left behind. Just a thought.
I suppose I could recount another hundred stories just like these, but all so very different. I’m sure our Lord had something in mind for each and every one of these experiences, both for my good and the good of others, both at that time and forever after that. I can’t help but thank my guardian angel for giving me the wherewithal to know what to do in such situations. I was escaping one drama after the next and at the same time learning so much about the fallen human condition and how the Lord, nevertheless, wants us for Himself. My guardian angel was guarding a sense of the greatness possible to the human soul within my own soul. There is hope. God loves us. I know He loved me. He loved everyone. I wanted to see His love in others. I wanted to see the greatness possible to the human soul in this way in everyone I met. That didn’t mean I couldn’t bust someone in the chops if that’s what he needed to bring him to his senses. And sometimes one does need to pull the trigger and watch a truck explode.
Later, as a priest, I was to see the Lord’s love in others from up close, seeing the greatness possible to the human soul, especially when I would impart the absolution during their confessions. The Lord is so good to people in confession, bringing them back to Himself. What great dignity people have in their friendship with the Lord. I can’t think of anything more noble than someone making their confession, even of the very worst of sins. “Look at how they are being carried along by the Lord’s grace!” is the exclamation any priest makes. The Lord’s work in the Sacraments brings light into the darkness. I thank God that I’ve witnessed His work among those He brings to Himself. He is so good, so kind.
Just to say, it was my father, who, as a kind of last will and testament, insisted with me so very many times during the last years of his life, saying, “Goodness and kindness, George, goodness and kindness!” I like that. That’s why I repeat it all the time. It’s not worthwhile living any other way, no matter what happens. The only way is the goodness and kindness of Jesus. And yet, as we know with our Lord’s exclamation… Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
That should be enough about my own experiences for those whom I’ve particularly had in mind while putting these articles up. They need to stop what they are up to, and stop it now. I’m especially speaking to those who pull the strings and those who so easily manipulate them. They know who they are. And others might just find out. ;¬)
Meanwhile, I’ll continue with the series in this way and that. A question came in about angels in these posts. I’ll tackle that forthwith. The answer should be enough to make those for whom I’ve been publishing these articles shake in fear. And if they don’t, they are fools.
I don’t why, but I seem to know many more terrorists than the average Joe on the street. I don’t know why that is. This is a happy story and a sad story. An interreligious dialogue story. A story, I am afraid, of a victory but also of a terrible failure on my part. And maybe that’s why I dwell on such things a bit too much.
While doing my studies in Rome, taking the good example of a certain Swiss priest-friend, I made it a habit to do some street apostolate while doing my studies in Rome. Besides saying Mass and hearing confessions at pretty much every Missionary of Charity house in the city (except the one in Vatican City), I made it a point to Continue reading