The question of the day: Topic 203: Why is there evil in the world. 

Evil by my definition is the purposeful killing of innocent people for any reason other than a real and present need to defend yours and or another human life. Innocents might die, but the motive makes that fact a tragedy and not evil.   I seriously doubt that anyone who reads this intends to kill innocent people.  So you are not evil, but might be one of the reason evil exists.

I waited to write this until I had read what others said.  The posts directly answering this challenge were fewed than those that ignored the question.  Not at all unusual and part of the problem.  I expected the religious views about original sin. I also expected to read about necessary lessons, evil as necessary to know good, and finally that evil was just a matter of definition. The posts did not disappoint. Here is my take on today’s challenge.

There are two classifications of evil, both might be related in the end and the first might escape classification as evil, but not by my definition. Nature acts, perhaps not with intent, but in ways that damages or kills innocents. Think of earthquakes, forest fires, lightning strikes, flash floods, hurricanes, droughts, mud slides, volcanic eruptions, animal attacks, viruses–the list goes on.

These I see as the randomness of nature and again as we cannot know the intent, probably the label of evil is not right. According to Lewis Thomas, American Physician, and Writer, 1913-1993: “The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music.”

This speaks to the idea that nature’s blunders or random accidents are designed to create change and growth. No one knows for certain.

There might be less suffering if the blunders did not affect innocent lives. A child is born whole and then found to have one of those DNA blunders called Rett’s disease. Such a child is doomed to be a vegetable or worse a viable brain trapped in a body that cannot communicate. The pain spreads to other innocents–the parents and siblings of such a child.

These are not evils we can combat other than to help the victims, heed warnings, work to keep our earth un-polluted. I endure them by hoping  that behind all the wonders  of this earth and universe exists a force of love. The suffering of innocents are the sacrifices necessary to move humankind forward so  that in time we will become a species capable of bringing  peace on earth.  I think the love offers us more than the role of puppets.  We have instead been granted life and all that means in terms of pain, suffering, and evil.

Some endure the pains and possible evils described above through faith, others self-blame, still others through other-blame. Sadly, faith can be a tool of evil or evil in its beliefs. Many Pagans sacrificed innocents seeking to appease the Gods of their understanding For centuries the Jews have been blamed for keeping Jesus from returning; now the secular, Jewish, and Christian world are under attack by people of another faith.

I am a converted Jew, I stopped calling myself a Christian before converting when I understood the ramifications of the Doctrine of Salvation. This doctrine ultimately divides the world into the saved and the damned. Seeing others as damned creates categories of “others” that can be killed with the killers believing that is what their G-d wants. Are those people evil? If true believers, the people are not evil, but the deeds are.  A great many suffer a need to make their beliefs supreme. When someone doesn’t believe as you do, it creates uncertainty and anxiety.  The killing is to quiet or punish the uncertainty the “other” creates.

Then there are the people who just want power and use religion as a tool. Constantine was one, the Roman Empire was failing, the Christians were increasing and he rallied Christians to his side by use of the cross. Perhaps the idea came to him in a dream as many believe. What is not known is that the cross was also a symbol beloved by many of the pagans troops who fought with him. So Constantine was a brilliant tactician but by no means a Christian or maybe only on his death bed and then at his wife’s bidding. In time the Roman Church became as blood thirsty for power as the Roman Empire it replaced. Constantine, was the first, however to use it as a tool for his own advancement.

Many of the posters blamed life experiences and usually abusive parents, but many factors make up who a person becomes—DNA, life experiences, the society we grow up in, who we identify with, the behaviors we engage in that reward or punish us, the beliefs we come to accept as true, and yes, part of what we experience at our parent’s knees plays a part but more minor than is preached in today’s world. Also, let me point out that DNA, life experiences, the society we grow up in, who we identify with, the beliefs we come to accept as true, how we are rewarded or punished also determine parental behavior.

People who live lives that allow them to be kind and caring find it hard to accept that others are not the same. This feeds the denial of evil, so instead of denouncing evil acts, they are ignored or reasoned away.  Those who do evil whether for good or evil reasons will always take advantage of that fact. They also take advantage of the fact that those who are comfortable with their lives are predisposed to want to stay comfortable.   All us how deny evil, or fail to condemn it allow it.  Moreover, we all do this to one extent or another.

I will end with of my favorite quotes.

“The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”

This was said by  St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, a man who persecuted those he saw as heretics during the early years of Christianity mainly in pursuit of affirming his beliefs.  He was also, one who worked tirelessly for the poor. So he did evil and good, as do most of us. I think for his time, he did more good than evil and I find this quote speaks to many of today’s problems.  I think those of us with privilege need to do more, each of us in our own way can work against evil; the more we do, the greater hope there will be Peace on Earth.  So when you don’t speak out, share and care, you allow evil to exist and grow.

 Care, share, and stay strong.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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