Bad is not Evil

The title. It's something that hit me when I squashed a fly minding its business in the yard earlier today. I reached out with a hovering foot and sent him out of the game. It was a big fucker and he left a reddish streak on the light grey tile. It had never done anything to me. Never landed on my food nor made a racket beating itself into the window trying to escape outside, but fuck that fly.

According to rule number 10 (Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food) this would make me a bad person. A bad person, but not an evil one. Which is why somebody like Hitler, an animal lover and vegetarian who never murdered anyone himself, was not, by the same rule, a bad person.

But he was evil and we all know this to be true. 

I've been obsessed with the subject of evil for a long time, maybe in part because it's easy to say that it is "the opposite of good" but it's not easy to point to persons who embody it. What a conundrum (but is it, really?) If it were just the opposite of good then anything 'bad' would be automatically evil, and any person who does bad things must be, on the whole, an evil person. But, for one, we all do bad things at one time or another, and some of us do more bad than good: Lying, swearing, being impolite, selfish, careless...killing flies for fun - does this make us evil like Stalin or Hitler? What about good behavior though; taking care of one's family, being polite, showing up to work on time and carrying on diligently by dutifully completing all tasks and following all the rules; signing for the opening of a new "labor camp", ordering the deportation of people from a filthy, crowded ghetto, "for their own safety"; would all of that mean that Eichmann was "a good man"?

According to many people today, especially those who espouse platitudes like, "no dog lover can be a bad person", yes, Eichmann and Hitler were "good" men. This is why, presumably, great minds are now arguing that 'Evil' is a term of questionable usefulness. Let's just forget about it. It's may not even exist.

But we all know it when we see it. We all witness evil on a daily basis.

Moreover, I think we all feel there is something afoot in the world. Something is wrong even though we can't see it. It's not just the political polarization and the war in Ukraine, or COVID and big pharma and recession, rather something that we can't see but that seems to permeate our lives and culture. What could it be?

What could throw everything out of synch and upside down? What force could compel people to say that men are women and that women are men, that mutilating children is good, killing the unborn is good, that words are violence, that animals are good but more humans is bad, that racism is bad but some races are worse than others, that gender is more important than sex, but that sex is more important than free speech, which is hateful, especially if it's about sexually liberated women, sluts, but only when men call them that, not when they apply the label to themselves. Good, bad, better, worse, polarity everywhere, yet "Evil" is nowhere specifically. This is the current permeating everything, isn't it? We don't like to think about it and most of us won't admit it, and yet...

Evil is a special type of chaos. Evil is not a thing but a set of conditions that spiral out of control. It is a vicious cycle of chaotic incoherence that leads to the kind of behavior that grinds humans down with pain and suffering. Anxiety is caused by evil, as is stress, hate, anger, rage. These are nothing but unembodied human emotions whose catalyst is evil and whose vehicle manifests as pain, anguish, bloodshed, and violence amidst a plethora of other very banal evils; betrayal, dishonesty, pettiness, and the like.

"The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

This is why we are all simultaneously good as well as evil, since in the same person the capacity for both is rooted in the expression of free will. We are evil when we participate and contribute actively to the chaotic cycle of destruction whose aim is human demise. We are good when we consider our actions not only now, but in time. When we acknowledge that something like revenge is a sweet poison and a gift to evil. I know this sounds apocalyptic, and that's because it is. The Apocalypse is not a story of the disappearance of forests and the degradation of fauna, but of the eradication of humanity. It is brought about by human evil not by rising seas (or perhaps through rising seas as a secondary cause) and that's because those of us who are visibly evil, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al, are not evil because they were "bad people", but because they were the agents of evil. 

I wanted to put this out there because I know that what is happening now is caused evil, because it creates and will continue to create deep suffering and incalculable damage to humanity. I think we all play a role, contributing, as agents, to the propagation of evil either by commission or omission, and that we can also choose not to. It's as simple as that. Do we sustain lies and treachery while hiding away until it comes to devour us anyway, or do we stand up to it, unwilling to carry on by supporting people and policies that ultimately lead to our own doom? Your choice. 


Evil is a special type of chaos. Evil is not a thing but a set of conditions that spiral out of control.


I enjoyed reading this because the first part led me to be thinking what is expressed in that line above.

I believe 
is the 
finally being paid back to the piper for small things that compound and 'spiral out of control'

these small things are little things that couldn't be considered evil on it's own. just little everyday things... but things that rob us of our 

our world is an aggregate of these small poisonings and thus i don't think we can ever expect to salvage the debt of 7 plus billion souls.

humanity can only be found in oasis' shared by small scale relationships.
2022-08-19 14:06:50
Very well put, "a small oasis of humanity" really like that.
I don't know if I shared it with you before but Vasily Grossman, author of Life and Fate (which really is a must read) has an iconic paragraph describing this sentiment as well: 

"Kindness is powerful only while it is powerless. If Man tries to give it power, it dims, fades away, loses itself, vanishes...I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning."

And to cap it off: 

“Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.”

2022-08-19 16:11:46
Damn good passages.

I also don't think evil will conquer. But that's not to say that I think 'humanity' will conquer either

because by (my) definition 
doesn't aim to conquer. while evil does.

it's kind of like how the U.S could never 'win' the 
Vietnam War
but it wasn't like the Vietnamese could 'win' either. They could but last and survive and then move on.

I think that's what 'good' or humanity is like here.

Also reminds me of 
serial killers
-- been re-reading 
Jo Nesbo
Harry Hole

Serial Killers aim to kill (conquer)

you can't really win against them by trying to conquer kill them. They'll just keep doing their thing or if they are caught a new one will come and take their place.

you can only hope as a the hunted to survive. It would be absurd to think that the way to win is to become a serial killer yourself.

what's happened in the 
environment that you often lament about is i believe people thinking they can defeat evil by becoming another version of evil which they consider good.

this is also why i like the zen buddhist principles of detachment from identity and desire. because it is one of the only codified doctrines of how not to just get into an endless loop of aiming to be more righteous
2022-08-21 14:39:42