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Law & Order

Law & Order

Hello and good day!

A young married man worked all afternoon in his front yard. He lived in a hot city, and the soil was dry, which made for hard shoveling. The sun bared down on him, and dust flew up into his face as he dug and dug. He and his wife had decided to plant baby palm trees in the front yard.

It was the first real house with a yard that they'd ever rented, and they were dedicated to doing some landscaping. The neighborhood was mostly poor and run down and the yards were uniformly neglected.

The young husband figured that these new palms could be a small oasis that might inspire his neighbors to start taking pride in their properties as well. It was his day off from work and he worked from early in the morning until late afternoon. By day's end, his was shiny with sweat and his clothes were soaked.

But he'd done it. He planted out the entire front yard with new palms.

After showering, he ate lunch and went to lay down on the living room couch, which was right underneath a window. The couple didn't have kids yet and were able to relish afternoon naps without interruption.

Before plopping down on the old couch they'd purchased at a thrift store a couple years earlier, the young man opened the window. Dozing off under that window after working hard in the yard was one of his favorite things.

There wasn't always a breeze, but on this day, he lucked out. It was a warm breeze, but a breeze, nonetheless. It swept over his face, and he imagined the wind blowing through the fronds of his new palms.  

 A couple hours later, he woke up, splashed water on his face, and dressed to leave for a dinner party. Before leaving the house, he closed the window, but forgot to fasten the latch. When he and his wife returned home, the house was peaceful and quiet, and the young couple slept wonderfully.

The young husband had no reason to go outside and check the window frame for a thin blue line drawn on it. And even if he had, it wouldn't have meant anything to him. It certainly wouldn't have triggered him to go inside and close the window latch.

The next evening, the young couple went shopping in a mall. They bought new clothes and ate cheap Chinese food, loving every moment of being together. When they arrived home, everything looked normal from the outside.

But when they opened the door, they found that their house had been burglarized and trashed. The window over the couch was left wide open.

The wife broke down in tears. The husband immediately called the police. Unfortunately, said the dispatcher, an officer wouldn't be able to come out for 4 - 5 hours.

Did the young husband still want an officer to come by? Yes please, said the young man. He and his wife cleaned the house and found that nothing valuable had been stolen. They'd hidden their valuables well and most of their belongings were purchased from secondhand stores, which made them undesirable to a thief.Having their sense of security violated is what hurt the most.  

The wife went to sleep, and the young husband stayed up to wait for the police officer. When the officer finally arrived, it was 3 in the morning.

The young man had fallen asleep on his old couch under the open window. When he heard banging on his front door, he shook out of his sleep and walked over to open it.  

"I'm here to check on a robbery," said the officer. "Yes, over here," said the young husband, rubbing his eyes to wake up. The officer walked to the open window and stuck his head through it.

He appeared to know exactly what he was looking for. "Yep, here it is," said the officer. The officer motioned for the young husband to follow him outside. Standing outdoors looking at the window frame, the officer pointed to a thin blue line.

"They case neighborhoods. When families go out, these guys walk around the house and touch every window. If they find one that is unlatched, they draw a line. They spend the whole night doing that. Then over the next couple of days, they hide and watch. When they see families leave, they look for the blue lines and if the window is still unlocked, they go in."

The young husband put his hand on top of his head and then dragged it down the side of his face, trying to wipe away the disgusted feeling he felt. He was mad at himself for forgetting to lock that window. And he hated the creep who broke into his house and made his wife cry.

"Now what?" asked the husband. "I can stay here and write a report. Or I can leave, and you can remember to lock your windows in the future. And I'll dust for prints before I go."

"If we do the report, will you catch this guy?" asked the husband. "No, we probably won't," said the officer. "Ok. Forget the report. Thanks for coming," said the husband. "I'll be outside dusting and then I'll go," said the officer.

The young husband went in and pulled down the window. Then he took a hammer and nails out of his toolbox, and he nailed the window shut. After that, he went to bed with his wife.

Some twenty-five years ago, out in the small district where we buy cacao in the jungle of northern Peru, there was a crime syndicate. A man and his sons had been terrorizing folks out that way for a long time.

The kingpin carried out truck robberies. He trafficked drugs. He paid off the police. He brought in goons from other neighborhoods to intimidate the townspeople. He was an evil man running amok.

Finally, the community couldn't take it anymore and decided to remove this bad actor.

I am going to tell that true story tomorrow.

But before I sign off, I'd like to share a thought with you. I believe there are two ways to think about evil in the world.

One way is to acknowledge that it always has been and always will be among us. It is an ever-present part of life, and as such must be realistically prepared for and dealt with. Within this framework, the questions to ask are how best to deal with evil and whether evil is increasing or decreasing.

You can't set its complete absence as a goal, because you've acknowledged in advance that it always exists. In this case, success lies in decreases, elimination being impossible.

The second viewpoint is that the world should be perfect. All evil can and must be eliminated. If even a drop of evil remains, the world is in a state of wickedness and failure.

I believe that the first scenario aligns more closely with reality and, counterintuitively, allows a person to be more optimistic about the state of things at any given time.

But I am running out of space for now.

Tomorrow's story about vigilante justice in the jungle of northern Peru will be a good one.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!