I remember two horrific tragedies in my college days and learned more about them lately.
Ted Bundy was a suspect in more than 30 murders of young women, and later confessed to most of them before the state of Florida put him to death. Criminologist Ann Rule wrote of her friendship with Bundy in “The Stranger Beside Me” before she believed he was the killer. She and many others could never understand the rage of this demented man.
Charles Manson and his family didn’t murder as many victims as Bundy, but he obtained more notoriety. Manson remained in the public eye for 40 years until his death two years ago. And one of his disciples, Lynette Fromm, was charged with attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975. I found former “O’Reilly Factor” legal analyst Lis Wiehl’s book, “Hunting Charles Manson,” to be especially insightful offering new information on this cult and its lasting impact on America.
I discovered a movie on the Internet about Manson’s victims from Aug. 9, 1969. This fictionalized story showed actress Sharon Tate and her guests fighting back that horrible night and surviving the intended murders. This is a fascinating re-telling of the story with a more pleasing conclusion.
I began to think of the almost universal longing we have to replay and reconfigure the past.
One man, an air traffic controller, fell into deep depression over an “almost.” He almost allowed a mid-air collision, though he caught his error in time. But he left work for a season rattled by what could have happened.
Most of us are rattled not by the “almosts,” but by what did happen. We took our anger out on someone who just happened to be nearby. We acted thoughtlessly towards a spouse or a child and jeopardized a relationship. We took money that didn’t belong to us or took credit for someone else’s accomplishment. Or perhaps we were dishonest on an examination or job application and were discovered.
We dream of going back and redoing errors with the greater wisdom of time but find this only an illusion. No person, no matter how strong, is strong enough to pull back the hands of a clock.
The Apostle Paul labored under his past, too, since he’d been a persecutor of Christians. In his letter to the Philippians he revealed one of the life lessons he had to learn: “I do this one thing: I forget what is behind and reach forward to what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13).
As followers of Christ we must learn to “thoroughly repent” of our wrong, as evangelist Charles Finney used to say, and then move forward with confidence that a God of mercy “thoroughly” forgives.