In the wake of the Colorado shooting the word and concept of evil are likely to be used as a tool of the Right. It becomes the end of an argument. The gunman was “pure evil.” What is to be done with evil in that case? It can only be eradicated, for there is no negotiating, co-exicting or appeasing evil, only defeating and destroying it, in society with regards to crime, in dealing with the Iranians, your political opposition. It begins to rob you of true freewill. The word is initself a falsehood and a means of control.
Evil is, at it’s core a lie. It is the antithesis of the truth, and since truth can be manipulated, interpreted and degraded the line between evil and truth is terribly thin. The lie is certainly as old as mankind, undoubtedly the symptom of negotiations between our selfish souls and wants and desires of others. Separated from one another by the needs of the body and the ignorance of the mind we are certainly suffering the legacy of those first lies, and, hence, their inherent “evil.” We may also be suffering the echoes of the first recorded lie.
There are few words as misused or misunderstood as the word Evil. For some it is the embodiment of the worst the human heart and mind can conjure. To others it is a living thing, an ethereal essence or spirit that tempts and persuades us to cruel and selfish acts. Some believe that Evil is its own power, one that must be crushed and driven from the world. To those who eschew that belief, evil is a misnomer, a cartoonish way of describing a process. Some believe that strength and force are the only means of confronting evil, while others hold that if it can be dissected, and understood, that the roots of “Evil” can be treated or diagnosed before causing greater harm.
What is the nature of evil? Where does it come from? If a person does evil then we are left with but a few possibilities. That is, they are either seduced, are tricked, or are too weak to resist evil. If that is the case then someone or something ultimately must be responsible, and since the devil, or some dark specter, is not liable under the law we are left to judge the human perpetrator or accomplice to the evil act. If some one is under the influence of evil, is it something akin to a coercion, a trance or a drug? In that case, if they are control as if they were a puppet, are they truly laible for those actions? Finally we are left to ask if a person is evil? In which case they either succumb, fail to resist, or act upon that inherent evil quality. And who decides who is evil, partly evil, just a bit evil, and who is a bit good, partly good and good?
Does it require a catalyst, like a spark, or a particular environment to rage out of control? Can it be synthesized, controlled, vaccinated against or used commercially or for warfare? Some might argue that war is the attempt to harness evil for one side against the real or perceived or concocted evil of an enemy. Certainly the very word is a generic term, an umbrella word covering varied and even necessary evils. It also describes innocuous things, like an evil smell, and the like. Is sadistic evil different from abject evil, manipulative evil, genocidal evil and many others?
But the critical mind eschews the cartoonish conept of evil, which is all too easily coward to in ignorance and fear. But the world is not trapped between light and dark, just as no person struggles with good and evil. We struggle against our inherent selfishness and the complex processes of our lives. Learning to comprehend the processes of the world leads to enlightenment and our best hope to one day intervene ahead of tragedies like that in Colorado. Failure to learn surrenders us to the control of those only too willing to manipulate our ignorances.