About half way into a story of suffering, first on a raft, lost at sea, and then in a series of prisoner of war detention camps, Zamperini begins describing a guard inmates called “the Bird.”
Before describing the incredible evils of “the Bird”, Zamperini introduces him as, someone who made other guards seem like country gentlemen. He goes on to say, “Deranged, brutal beyond belief, vicious like someone who tortured animals as a child before turning his evil talents on people, the Bird by his mere existence allowed me to focus all of the hatred I’d accumulated and let fester since my capture.”
Later, after descriptions of torture that I could barely stand to read, Zamperini quotes from the story of Tom Wade, another prisoner of war. According to what Wade learned from friendlier guards, “the Bird” had been raised in a wealthy home, with an adoring mother.
As a student, however, the man had partied and wasted his education so that, when called up by the army, he failed to qualify for officer training school. Later he was described by those who knew him as a proud nationalist who sheltered an inferiority complex over his failure to become an officer.
So Zamperini writes, “In other words, the Bird hated officers because he couldn’t be one, and given a camp full of high-ranking men, he acted like a jealous god, abusing his power.”
At this point, I remembered that the Apostle James links demonic evil with the common human emotions of envy and jealousy (James 3:14-16).
James actually says, “For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil” (v 16 NLT).
That raises questions in my mind that I wish we could consider together. What is it about envy and jealousy that allows such emotions to be linked to some of the worst expressions of evil?
And if we can find any answers to that question, can it help us to better appreciate what Christ offers to do in us?