When we were children, we heard a lot about how we should be leery of strangers. That man or woman offering candy or a ride in a car may not have our best interests in mind. In fact, more than likely, strangers who approach children they don’t know while other adults are looking the other way are probably up to evil. As we enter our teenage years and adulthood, we tend to forget that “stranger danger” can still be a reality in our world. Case in point, Natalee Holloway, the 18 year old teen from Alabama, became the victim of foul play while on a class trip to the Caribbean Island of Aruba. She has been missing since May 30, 2005.
When Natalee, an honors student from Mountain Brook High School, planned her trip with her classmates, I’m positive she was excited about all that she would see and do on the island. She would be with friends and chaperones. She was in the prime of her life, and she was excited about her next move, attending the University of Alabama with a full-ride academic scholarship. Tragedy was the last thing on her mind. Evil people with evil intentions prey upon the young or the old, not the self-assured and exceedingly intelligent.
It is now 2008, and the circumstances of Natalee Holloway’s disappearance have been a repeated news story. I am writing this column one day before a Dutch television show investigator will release what he claims is a break in the case. Three different young men were seen with Natalee just before she disappeared. All three have been arrested and released numerous times. There are reports that Miss Holloway may have let her guard down by drinking alcohol at the popular nightclub she was at on the evening she vanished. No doubt about it, at some point, Natalee Holloway or the friends that accompanied her forgot that dangerous men and women walk amongst us, ready to take what doesn’t belong to them, ready to destroy innocent trust in a heartbeat.
Proverbs 22:3 (NIV) says, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Natalee Holloway let her guard down; we all do, because we want to trust our fellowman. We want to believe that everyone treats others as they would want to be treated. And we do not want to live our lives in constant fear, but when we are far from home and in unfamiliar territory, well that is definitely a time to bring the lessons of “stranger danger” to the adult mindset.
I pray the Natalee’s relatives discover the truth about what happened to her on that fateful night. And I pray others who decide to celebrate their successes in life remember how quickly tragedy can sneak up on them. If there is any good that comes out of this nightmarish story, it is that millions of teenagers now understand how dangerous the world truly is.
Dan, Natalie's father is my State Farm Insurance Agent and a friend, so her tragedy is close to us here in East Central Mississippi. Continue to pray for this case to be finally completed, with Natalie's fate known. God bless you. Thomas
I disagree. Teenagers
have absolutely no idea
how dangerous the world is!
That's what growing old,
is all about: going through
a lot of tragedy, and learning
just how terribly evil the
world is - and why, the Lord
came down to save us.