He stared blankly at everyone around him; his vacant face a telling indication of the confusion within. Around him, it seemed as though everyone was saying something. A cacophony of voices. Yet he heard nothing. Only the inner beating of his heart; maybe grief, maybe regret, maybe remorse. Just a fifteen year-old boy. Yet convicted of the worst crime imaginable - murder.
He bowed his head as the policemen approached to take him away. Away from the grim-faced man on justice's throne. Away from the heckling men whose very words had the power to sway the minds of many. Away from the throngs of anticipating spectators and predatory reporters. Away from his beloved parents. Away for a lifetime of detention under the President's Pleasure.
Outside the packed courthouse, onlookers peered to catch a glimpse of the boy who had confessed to murder. Many in the crowd were grieved to see that so young a life could be influenced by another to murder his wife. They stared at the person who instigated the crime as he too now emerged from the courthouse - a self-confident, calm yet cold-blooded man, a person by the name of Anthony Ler.
The details of the crime seemed like a story from the movies. Only this time it was acted out in the flesh. Ler had hired the young boy to kill his wife. For one hundred thousand dollars, the agreement was made and the deed acted out. But when asked in court why he agreed in the end, the young boy could only say he was confused, and that he did it to gain acceptance by Ler.
That a fifteen year-old boy in Singapore could kill another for the sake of acceptance. That two others in Columbine could massacre a high school of students in the name of hatred. A picture of confusion; of a world turned upside down.
I know of another group of young people, fourteen to fifteen year-old boys belonging to a youth group. Some weeks ago they wrote their plans for the future. One wrote, "I want to be a professional web designer and a guitarist." Another - "I want to be a musician for God." And yet another - "When I grow up I want to serve God!" A picture of hope in a world of confusion.
The fifteen year-old boy stepped away from the courthouse, his face etched upon by words of lost-ness and hopelessness. That he chose to seek acceptance from a man who could never give him any. If only he chose to seek such acceptance from the One who could give him more than all he ever wanted.
This article was written by Mark Lim Shan-Loong on 26th August 2003.
Words from the Heart