Sympathy for the evil

I did not make any mistake in the title…I won’t talk to you about the Rolling Stones! I’ll talk to you about a book I just finished reading and that moved me a lot.

I knew Jodi Picoult. Who does not know Jodi Picoult anyway?

I read “my sister’s keeper” and I cried. I did cry a lot. I did not want to feel that way again, powerless.

But when I checked at Nineteen Minutes on Kim’s blog, I decided to give it a chance.


So here I was, reading a story about a young guy, Peter, who went to school one day and killed 10 people and let many others on the edge.

This is tough. I mean who could even think to have sympathy for this kind of person, capable of such violence. Killing people does not solve any issue. We can’t tolerate it.

But then Jodi Picoult takes us back in time, looking at the life of this young guy, of his friend Josie, who took another road, who tried to belong, who would do anything to fit in. Peter did not fit in. He was different. He was badly treated, bullied at school.

But I imagine what you’ll say to me:

How many of us have been bullied at school, and never turned violent?

How many of us suffered hardships, without turning the gun towards our abusers? 

Violence can’t be accepted.

Thought, as you are moving into the book, into the shattered life of so many people, you do remember that the shooter is the son of somebody, the son of a man and a woman who did their best to raise their son to be a good citizen. You do remember that you don’t always have the full picture to make up your mind. You do remember that it’s easy to say “I will never do this”, but that you don’t always have the chance to do something else.

There is no excuse for what Peter did. Behind his act, there are many questions which need to be asked and answered by society and families.

As I was turning the last pages, I was feeling some kind of sympathy for this guy. But if I had been on the jury to judge his case, I would still have sentenced him to life.

This story told me that sometime behind the bad actions, the violence, there are men and women waiting to tell their stories, waiting to be heard before it’s too late, waiting to be taken care of and helped.

Violence is not the solution.

We (Society, Family, Justice, Education…) are the solution.


10 thoughts on “Sympathy for the evil

  1. Hi Marie,

    You are right. Violence is NOT the solution! Isn’t it ironic that it happens in almost all the corners of the globe despite the warnings, the prayers and the wishes of people? Sometimes I feel this streak of inflicting violence has been running in human blood for ages! The blame keeps shifting from families to society to peer groups but what lies at the bottom of all this is man himself!


    • I think every man has some kind of violence in himself, and a great amount of love too. At the end of the day, we choose which road to take.
      Thanks for being there Balroop and for your words, always true.
      Stay well and in peace.


  2. I love Jodi Picoult’s narratives. I’ve just recently discovered how awesome and fabulous she is.
    Nineteen Minutes was a tough book to read. Picoult made us feel empathy for Peter. I did. I really did. Poor Peter…. But I still do not excuse his behavior for the murders…the violence, the pain. Just as I do not excuse the shooter of Sandy Hook, Columbine, or Kay’s murderer.

    xxxx LOVE for you, Marie.


    • I agree Kim, NO EXCUSE.
      When I think of Kay, I wonder how on earth somebody can ever forgive the man who killed her. It’s impossible, isn’t it?

      Love and Light to you Kim, straight from Paris.


  3. Violence is never the solution. We can understand why but that doesn’t make it OK. It’s always a balance between whether we should read to be aware to see where we can stop history repeating itself, or stay away so that doesn’t enter our consciousness. I feel like we healers have to read (non fictional account anyway). “Who better than you?” says Carolyn Mysse. It is us who needs to absorb it and help heal it. Though, it is so hard to read.


  4. As a collective we are responsible for each other. We create each other. If we look away…if we ignore, it all comes back to us. Violence is never the answer. It doesn’t work.


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