People can be quick to place blame, saying someone is bad because of something someone has said or done. But what is bad, or evil? Anyone can point to a list of actions and say one or another is evil – sometimes without much argument. But what is Evil? What is it that makes us choose these reprehensible actions? What is its essence – its root – and why do we care?
In my opinion, I think the old adage is correct: “Pride is the root of all evil.” But why?
Because I think all evil comes from an idea – that we are special, so special in fact that the rules do not apply to us. But why is that evil? How does that create all the rest of what we collectively call, “Evil”?
The big examples are easy to describe. Murder? Whatever the motive, the murderer cares more for their motives than they do about the legality or morality of their own actions. The same can be said for any kind of sexual crime.
But what of lessor evils? Stealing? There are certainly times when theft is the lessor of two evils (so to speak), but anyone who makes their living off of stealing is frequently seen as a villain who doesn’t care whom they hurt with their actions. Lying? The same – there are exceptions, but serial liars care more for their reasons than anything else. Even white lies can be similarly criticized.
What about speeding? Can we really justify driving over the speed limit, or are we just making excuses for reckless and selfish behavior? I know we’re not saving much time – I worked out the math on how much time we save by speeding, and the results are sad. (Short version: it’s not worth it.)
Even bitterness and spiteful words – actions that are completely legal – still darken the world bit by bit. And what are our justifications? That it doesn’t matter? That everyone does it? It reminds me of lyrics from Radiohead’s song “Creep”:
Whatever makes you happy,
Whatever you want,
You’re so fucking special…
And that’s what Evil is, in my eyes.
Now you can be and feel special – that’s OK. But when you start treating people like you matter more than them… When you act like your ideas and ideologies matter more than the people who have to be sacrificed to support them… That is Evil. It is microscopic and titanic, widespread and pervasive. It’s…seductive.
Because it tells you that you’re special. It tries to make you feel good about doing things that you should question. And, unfortunately, sometimes it succeeds.