Tuesday, August 05, 2008
The Existence of Evil
There are some who will argue that evil is Satan, the Devil, demonic influence, original sin and all that other mystical mishmash. Then there are others that outright deny the existence of evil and characterize it as only emotional and mental illness. Both ends will argue the point and never come to any agreement.
I believe that evil is real. But, I don't think that it is caused by a demonic influence and there are many perpetrators of evil actions who know the difference between right and wrong. I see evil as a lack of spiritual values (*please note that I said SPIRITUAL, not religious).
In my definition of evil, the one that stands out the most is arrogance/false pride, a lack of the spiritual value of humility, an inability to accept and learn from one's own mistakes, to apologize and grow. The person who is arrogant cannot see themselves as just another member of the human race, but rather, they see themselves as transcending the "lesser" people in our society. They also see their religion as superior to all others and the only way to the presence of Divinity. Extreme vanity is also aligned with arrogance, as I see it. Others might disagree. I do not equate strong personal stances for what one might consider just and right with arrogance, although some are misled.
After arrogance, comes intolerance. That is where I have seen evil manifested in the very bosom of our churches. Hitler, the KKK, David Duke...bombastic bigots all, professed Christianity while practicing the most heinous kind of intolerance. Intolerance is the opposite of love and charity...both spiritual values. Many of us Senior Mothers from the BSE were treated with intolerance, judged and deemed unworthy by the people who profess to follow a religion based on love. We were denied comfort, support and true assistance due to our perceived "sin" of sexual activity resulting in unmarried pregnancies.
An off-shoot of these evils is self-entitlement which is seeing oneself as more deserving of the good things in life than others, including children. If one can see the mother of the child they covet as "lesser" and someone to be judged as "unworthy," then one can justify the taking of that child from the mother as a heroic, even "saintly" act. These are the same people who persuade the mother to not be selfish, when their own needs are being met in a selfish manner, whether it is an agency, social worker or adoptor. Self-Interest is, along with all the other evils mentioned, the cornerstones of the horror of the Baby Scoop Era and the crimes against the mothers of those times.
It is foolish to deny that anyone who sees themselves as better than another based on gender, age, education, financial situation, race, religion or nationality is perpetuating an evil practice. In my mind, the evils listed above make unmarried sex look like small potatoes. Yet people will storm the fortress with torches and pitchforks if someone is caught with their pants down, while war, poverty, intolerance and the arrogance of megalomaniac leaders are accepted and allowed.
I find Dante's "Inferno" to be merely entertaining and I can't say that I see Satan or Hell as a reality. But evil is real. It moves among us and in us and only we can overcome it.
That brings me to the evil that bothers me the most and that is intentional ignorance. It isn't bad for someone to not know something, but to refuse to learn when the knowledge is presented to one for the taking is akin to the first evil of arrogance.
I watched a program, centering on the works of Mozart, last night and the happenings during the year 1791. His music was written during a time that the intellectuals of the day called the "Age of Enlightenment." Now, don't rely on the movie "Amadeus" as your guide to who and what Mozart was. As the moderator put it, the movie was great drama but very skewed history. He was a thinker and a person with strong beliefs. The intellectuals and creative people in this movement used, as their guides, the Golden Ages of Greece and Ancient Egypt. I think it would behoove this arrogant, technologically prideful society to emulate that striving for true, spiritual enlightenment and intellectual growth.
As with the push by our current government to reinstate the bad old days of punishing the unwed mother by incarceration in maternity homes and increasing infant adoption, we are on a downhill slide with our unfortunate dearth of spiritual values as a society. We need a prophet, but, I think if we were to have one that was the real deal, no one would hear him or her.
Please note that this is my personal philosophy. I certainly don't know all the mysteries beyond the veil and my approach is philosophical and emotional, rather than scientific. But, I am getting a little bit tired of science and finance jumping ahead of art and philosophy. In order to survive as a civilization, we need to get back to a balance. Until and if we ever do, evil will be a prominent, present and active force among us.