Throwback Thursday – Cyanide & Tylenol

By Kristen Johnson

On this day in history, September 29, 1982, packaging of food and medicines changed forever. A 12-year-old girl in Illinois died after taking a cyanide-laced Tylenol, and 6 adults died in the next few days, also after having taken poisoned Tylenol. (The People Sadly, the crime remains unsolved.

What can we say in the face of such tragedy, such hate, such evil?

2 Corinthians 2:10 (NRSV): Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ.

We have to forgive, but that seems impossible in cases like this one. Trying to imagine the pain of losing a loved one to intentional poisoning of random individuals is inconceivable. But, we have to forgive. And, we have to move forward and make things safer and better in the future:

Tragically, the cyanide incident encouraged 270 copycat incidents in the month following the incident. The killings did have a measurable, positive impact, however: a revolution in product safety standards. In the wake of the Tylenol poisonings, pharmaceutical and food industries dramatically improved their packaging, instituting tamperproof seals and indicators and increasing security controls during the manufacturing process. The result has been a dramatic reduction in the number of copycat incidents — although it may be of little solace to the families of the seven killed in Chicago. But now, as the FBI brings modern technology to bear on a case long gone cold, perhaps they can hope again for something else tangible: at long last, some criminal charges. (Time).

And, so, we move on. We try to forgive. We try to make positive changes for the world. We try to continue to love.

1 John 4:7-8 (NRSV): Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Serve all with love.

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