Loving Mohammad Armeli is easy, but could you love Aaron Stillday, who punched and robbed a child? 19

Aaron Stillday

32 year old Aaron Stillday was arrested in Minnesota for punching an eight-year-old boy for an iPad. The boy fell to the ground with a bloody face and innumerable psychological wounds to heal. The iPad cracked on the concrete and was rendered useless. A Good Samaritan, restaurant owner Mohammad Armeli, came to the rescue.

But the question remains: could you love Aaron Stillday as the Bible instructs us?

Aaron Stillday punches kid

Could you love a man who cold cocks an innocent child in broad daylight?

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. … But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:32-36)

Luckily, Mohammad Armeli of Christos restaurant was nearby at the time of the assault and called 911. He chased Stillday for a half mile and then held him up against a fence until cops arrived.

Mohammad Armeli

Here’s what he said of Stillday — and I agree 100%.

Get the criminals off the street so we can walk freely, you know? Poor kid. I can’t believe that blood was all over his face. This is the scum of the earth. You can not hit a child like that. … As I was told, he was arrested 60 times. I can’t believe they let him out.

Indeed, Mr. Stillday is the “scum of the earth.” How is it possible that we have a criminal justice system that could let such a man commit 60 such crimes and continue to walk the city streets? People complain about the cost of keeping men like Stillday behind bars, but how to do you quantify the cost on the young boy’s mind and soul after having been randomly punched on a city street? What price will the boy pay now that he no longer can believe that he is safe with his mother and father, aunt or uncle right next to him? How do you put a number on what Mr. Stillday’s crimes have cost the entire community?

Regardless, the point is that it is easy to love Mohammad Armeli — loving the “scum of the earth” is the challenging part.

We should love Mohammad because he did the right thing. We should love him because he selflessly sacrificed himself (what if Mr. Stillday had a gun or a knife?) for what he believed was the right and just thing to do. We should love him because he stood up for his community — complete strangers on one level, but brothers on the only level that really matters. However, we should also pray for Aaron Stillday.

The mind of Mohammad Armeli has obviously been tended to with seeds we associate with kindness, generosity, and justice. However, somewhere along the way Aaron Stillday allowed poisonous fruit to flourish in his head, which has routinely (more than 60 times!) manifested into our physical reality. He must pay for his crimes, but I also believe that we have a responsibility to offer him the kind of psychological and spiritual seeds he can use — it’s his choice — to heal.

Nobody was brought to this planet to exist as the “scum of the earth.” We all have a higher purpose and were meant to achieve great things. Some people have had their mind warped, and they forget where they really come from. (What are the chances Aaron was punched as a child? I’d say it’s a good bet.) They forget their true nature, and when they do that they are susceptible to becoming the monsters of this realm. It is up to us to show them the light, and one of the ways we can do that is by loving the monster.

If you get a chance, I ask you to pray for Aaron Stillday.

Editors note for regular readers: I’ve been updating you on the progress I’m making with my book. The message in Luke 6:32-36 is an important part my project. In fact, I would say it’s at least 33.3% of it. For those of you who are upset at this, just know that I also have a character who is much more Johnny Cash… If you’re not of fan of my character Luke, you’ll enjoy Michael. I’ll leave my third main character a mystery for now.

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19 comments

    • Agreed. I’ve shifted my position on guys like this quite a bit over the years. I obviously believe he should be held accountable in a court of law for his crimes — and I’m in favor of stiff penalties — but I think on a spiritual level that projecting hate is the wrong answer…even for someone like him.

  1. I’m enjoying the little hints about your book Doug.

    As for Aaron Stillday, the wonderful thing about life is the chance for redemption. Nothing can change the things you have done. Its up to you to try and be a better person in future.

    I find it funny that the anti-Christian liberals don’t even begin to understand that Christianity is not just about belief in God and Jesus. It is about a moral code and treating others how you would like to be treated.

    • Will, if you like messages about redemption then I think you’ll like my book. ;)

      I find it funny that the anti-Christian liberals don’t even begin to understand that Christianity is not just about belief in God and Jesus. It is about a moral code and treating others how you would like to be treated.

      I’ve found that the people who are most hostile towards Christians usually don’t have a very deep understanding of the faith. They usually want to make jokes about guys like me believing in “The Easter Bunny” or whatever…maybe take a few digs at The Westboro Baptist Church (a family of 50 or so nuts who are portrayed as somehow being representative of all Christians), etc.

      Yes, it is possible to be an intelligent and caring man and still believe in God. :)

      • As I have said before, I know physics and chemistry graduates who have studied for many years who are Christian’s.

        All religions have extremists, in fact there are extremists for almost everything. It would be a bit like watching big bang theory and assuming all scientists and comic book nerds were like that.

        I do like stories of redemption, as long as the redemption is earned **cough** Doc Ock **cough**.

      • I do like stories of redemption, as long as the redemption is earned **cough** Doc Ock **cough**.

        Haha. True. Didn’t early on Slott say it would be a redemption story, and then a few months into it he was was essentially like, “No, it will all come crashing down on him,”? Oh. Okay. So you admit that this was all a really dumb idea because a.) you can’t really redeem yourself without showing remorse for the guy you killed, and b.) if it really all was to show Spock crash and burn, then you didn’t need to kill Peter to do that.

  2. This reminds me of an article I recently read,
    http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/books/how-i-rediscovered-faith
    especially the second-to-the-last paragraph in that article. I like what Andrew said about redemption.

    My favorite fiction stories and real-life stories are the ones about redemption. That said, I believe very much in consequences for our actions. I mean, I am grateful for mercy and grace and we are required to forgive as God forgave us. But I think there are those who take advantage of a second-chance system, and when they do so over and over, I think they need to pay the consequences and learn that they can’t keep taking advantage and that they should have to take whatever rehabilitative steps it takes to break that pattern. But I think it’s very wise to remind people to pray for him or others like him every bit as much as we pray for someone who is sick or suffering… every bit as much as we pray for the victim in this story or other victims. That’s seems hard to fathom, but so is the verse you quoted. I know that when I hear things like this, my first reaction is not to pray for the perpetrator. I easily have “this guy is scum” reactions. I guess that is when I should channel that toward his actions and not his soul. That is where the consequences come in {appropriate jail time}. But his soul is where mercy and grace and love come in. I have a son, and if someone ever did to him what was done to that eight-year-old boy, I would have a really really difficult time forgiving. But an even harder time loving. I hope I never have to be put to that test.

    • I guess that is when I should channel that toward his actions and not his soul. That is where the consequences come in {appropriate jail time}. But his soul is where mercy and grace and love come in.

      Indeed. His soul is good. His soul is where his higher self resides — it is the spark of life given to him by God.

      I have a son, and if someone ever did to him what was done to that eight-year-old boy, I would have a really really difficult time forgiving. But an even harder time loving. I hope I never have to be put to that test.

      I would never wish for something bad to happen to your son, but consider this:

      Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

      How much closer to God would you find yourself if you faith was tested in some way, shape or form and you found it within yourself to love a monster? If you were able to become a being of pure love you would truly be one with God, and that would be a beautiful thing.

      Update: I just got a chance to check you link. Thanks for sharing! Sadly, Relevant wanted me to give them access to Facebook and Twitter. No go. :( However, I believe I read a similar article with Gladwell rediscovering his faith. My wife has his new book, but I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.

      • second to last paragraph of the article…
        “Their daughter was murdered. And the first thing the Derksens did was to stand up at the press conference and talk about the path to forgiveness. “We would like to know who the person or persons are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people’s lives.”

        Got to thinking about your post as the evening went on {while we were driving to Menards to buy paint, i thought of it because my husband—who I am still trying to convince to subscribe to your blog—was listening to the conservative radio station, which made me think of your blog}, and I wondered where someone like Hitler or any other murderous leader like him falls into your thinking on this. My guess is you would treat it the same. I think it’s safe to say you don’t consider yourself a Calvinist. So, in your view, would even Hitler {if he were still alive} have a chance for redemption in light of this post? Just curious what you would say about it. I’m not sure, myself. I don’t consider my faith Calvinistic in the limited atonement regard. Actually, I have never fully made up my mind on it. But if atonement is limited, that throws a whole new mix into the matter. Yes, Hitler’s mind was definitely warped along the way. But I am realizing that what I have been taught {and maybe this is because I grew up Protestant and this differs from what you’ve been taught as a Catholic… not sure, because I don’t know the specifics of Catholic doctrine} is that none of us are born with a higher purpose… only with a free will. In fact, we are all born with a sinful nature. And all of us are equally depraved. But then we are all given the choice to choose salvation/redemption or not. And if we do, then we will be better equipped to fight sin and fight evil from ruling our lives, and that even when we fall, our faith and love for God {if we commit to Him and choose not to walk away} will help us back on the path of sanctification. But being born to a higher purpose… I don’t know that I was ever taught that. But now I’m getting into doctrine and further from the point of your post, I think. My point is, I agree with your post… the gist of it. Though I said I would find it very difficult to forgive and love a person who would do that to my son, I know that is ultimately what I would choose. One, I know that withholding forgiveness only hurts the person who can’t forgive… not the one they won’t forgive. Two, it’s no less a command in the Bible than “thou shalt not murder”, so I would want to obey none the less.

        Anyway, what I can also say with assurance… my husband and I are intrigued by your book hints, as we are both {especially he is} big fans of Johnny Cash. And I see you replied to Andrew that your book is a redemptive story, so that’s another bonus for me that’s got me even more intrigued.

        Knowing you always {or usually} reply to your readers that comment, I click on “notify me of follow-up comments via email.” But it hasn’t been working… not sure why. Oh, well. I usually come back to check, and if I’ve forgotten, I catch your reply the next time you publish a post. Just not sure why that does not work anymore.

      • So, in your view, would even Hitler {if he were still alive} have a chance for redemption in light of this post?

        Yes. Of course. But all that would be determined by what’s going on in his heart and soul at the moment of his death, and only God can know that. Remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus? Man does not determine who goes to heaven — God does — and those who say they know are liars and hypocrites.

        is that none of us are born with a higher purpose… only with a free will.

        Yes, we have free will, but we also have the spark of God within us. Our soul is good, and if you act in accordance with God’s will there is no way that incredible things won’t transpire. When I say “higher purpose” I’m saying that by acting every day in ways that bring you closer to God, you will only bring good things into your life — because God is love. I read a good book once that likened God to the ocean and the soul to a tiny bucket from that ocean… Well, that tincture of heaven within you is powerful. When you look inside and understand it and have appreciation for it there is nothing you can’t accomplish. Those who have faith the size of a mustard seed…

        So yes, we have free will. Our ego (Edging God Out, as Dr. Wayne Dyer likes to say) does not act in accordance with God. It’s what allows for hate, jealousy, envy, and selfishness to creep in. When you embrace your ego, you push out God. Hopefully I’ve clarified that a bit.

        Anyway, what I can also say with assurance… my husband and I are intrigued by your book hints, as we are both {especially he is} big fans of Johnny Cash. And I see you replied to Andrew that your book is a redemptive story, so that’s another bonus for me that’s got me even more intrigued.

        I’ll continue to drop hints as I write about issues on the blog that tie into the themes of the book. I would just add that it will be a book of science fiction, so that may or may not be up your alley. Because I’m writing a book about “loving monsters” there must be … monsters in the book. Go team metaphor!

        I click on “notify me of follow-up comments via email.” But it hasn’t been working… not sure why.

        Hmmm. WordPress sometimes kicks out updates. Maybe something is screwy. I’ll check my own settings, but if it persists for a few weeks let me know and I’ll contact them. Thanks for letting me know.

  3. I have to say..I’m a liberal. And I’m a social worker. My story is this: When I was 20 years old, my father was stabbed in a burglary at our parsonage in Houston, TX. Eventually the murderer was caught..let out far to early, but ended up back in prison until 2003. He was 23 years old when he committed his act. I lost contact with his whereabouts and found him via Findagrave.com. He had died at age 54 in 2009, (I thought it ironic that my dad lived from 1924 to 1979, this guy lived from 1954 to 2009) which was how old my dad was when he was killed. My brother was not able to find much room for forgiveness…he suffered for years from depression over this, which is understandable. He was able to come to grips with this tragedy, finally, after the small, still voice reminded him that this person, the murderer, was also His son…and not an invaluable person, unworthy of love. I don’t know how this guy eventually led his life when he was let out of prison finally in 2003…he didnt live too long on the outside, either way. I’d like to believe my father met him in forgiveness.

    • Lynn, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it! You’re in luck, because liberals are welcome here. :) I really don’t care what political stripe someone is, as long as they’re tactful.

      Thank you for sharing your story and your perspective. I can’t image what it must have been like to go through such an ordeal, but it appears as though you’ve handled it with grace and poise (if I might be so bold as extrapolate such a thing from your introductory post).

      For years I used to go into “funks” (that’s the best word I have to describe them), and I was extremely anxious. I eventually realized that there were some things in my past that I was holding too tightly to, which were causing the funks, and worrying needlessly about the future, which was causing my anxiety. It was only when I began to really listen to the “still voice” within me that many nagging issues melted away.

      He was able to come to grips with this tragedy, finally, after the small, still voice reminded him that this person, the murderer, was also His son…and not an invaluable person, unworthy of love.

      Well said. I think it’s easy to look at people from afar and think that their lives are worthless (e.g., watch one of those educational shows on prison gangs if you want to be tested), but when we really step back and look at the situation from a universal perspective it’s obvious that each and every person out there has value. They might be extremely scarred for any number of reasons, but that is no reason to give up on them.

      I know that some of my regular readers might think I’m going soft in my old age…and on some level maybe that’s true, but I’m not saying we should do away with prisons. I fully believe guilty parties should pay for their crimes. I just think that instead of giving prisoners Internet access and cable television and weight rooms that perhaps we should try and figure out how to heal them spiritually. It’s tough to do the one-on-one work necessary to untangle that mess, so instead we opt to ignore it or put a Band-Aid on it. Sad.

      • Hmmm. Now some of my readers are going to question my conservative credentials. ;) I’m sure you’ll probably disagree with much of what I say in future posts, but I’d like to think that we’ll also be able to find a lot of common ground.

        Again, thanks for reading and contributing to the discussion.

      • My husband and I always split tickets…I’m more of a social liberal…my husband is an agronomist at an ag coop here in Central MN…he does NOT want to hear about GMO’s…AND…I will have you know…since I married him…I have become a pretty good shot..I even have conceal and carry!! LOL…

      • It looks like we’re on the same page on the Second Amendment, too. I get into social issues on occasion, but I tend to focus more on debt and national defense. The last time I touched on gay rights issues in the comments section (on a blog post that was primarily about the media) I had to ban a conservative. Sigh…

  4. I’m amazed that I haven’t heard much about this story, considering that I live in Minnesota. Then again, I don’t watch the local news anymore since it’s usually about as exciting as watching the grass grow. I’m amazed the Star Tribune hasn’t talked about the story yet. I’ve only found two local news sources that have talked about the story. But they’re from five days ago, so maybe it’s just old news now.

    I agree with you, Doug, regarding prisons. I think they get way too many luxuries, such as cable TV and internet access, gyms, great healthcare and free education. It’s pathetic . My understanding was always that prison was supposed to be a punishment, where your privileges were taken away and you paid for whatever crime you committed. Instead, they get reward with luxuries, some of which ordinary, law-abiding people can only dream of.

    Unfortunately, I think that if they were to implement your proposal about healing prisoners spiritually, you’d have idiots from the ACLU and other like-minded outfits filing lawsuits and screaming about “prisoner mistreatment” or some such nonsense.

    And good points about those who are hostile to Christianity not having any understanding of the faith. That’s what happens when you base your perceptions of it on the lunatics from the Westboro Baptist Church, who are somehow representative of all Christianity. That, and they probably read one too many books by Richard Dawkins or too many issues of the Skeptical Inquirer.

    • I was waiting to hear your take, Carl. I saw that it took place in Minnesota and was like, “Hmmm, I wonder if that’s anywhere near Carl?”

      My wife made some interesting comments about these losers in prison who are gang members and I was like, “Well, actually, I’m fine with doing away with the death penalty if they’d bring back hard labor.” To me, I’d rather keep someone alive doing manual labor for some enormous project than kill them. Why can’t we have these guys digging some massive underground city or something cool? Why do they get to go online and interact with strange prisoner groupies? Why do we allow these gang members to keep doing the same thing in jail that they did on the outside world? We don’t need to allow that crap, but we put up with it because someone decided it was “cruel and unusual” not to give the Mexican gang member or the skin head his weekly cable and Internet fix. Unbelievable.

      • Haha. Well, Minneapolis is about 45 or so miles away, but where I live it’s still considered Northwest Metro. We moved up here 13 years ago to escape the Twin Cities (we lived in a suburb about 30 miles away for 11 years, but our neighborhood was really starting to go to hell), but in a way it’s sort of followed us up the freeway since the town where I live is now considered a suburb of Minneapolis.

        I’m not opposed to the death penalty and I wouldn’t be opposed to hard labor for these losers in prison, either. Like I said, by giving them internet access and all sorts of privileges, you’re basically rewarding them whereas the idea of prison is to punish you for the crimes you’ve committed and taking away privileges you would take for granted in the outside world. By giving them internet access, you’re fostering the kind of sick culture that worships monsters like Charles Manson and if you want a more recent example, Dzokhar Tsarnaev.

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