TOO BAD: EVIL DOES NOT EXIST
I thought I’d start the year off with a bang. This isn’t the time for beating around the bush or making gauzy statements. I started three other posts before this one - trying to get at what I wanted to say to start the year. Here is where my head is at.
Is there such a thing as evil?
By evil I mean the concept of evil as an explanation for human behaviour. I mean the way of speaking about behaviour as if it is evil and thus somehow foreign to us “good people”.
Without humans on the planet - is there “evil”?
If every human was under five years old - would there be any “evil”?
If evil exists we can stand in opposition to it.
And not get anywhere.
We don’t get anywhere when we name, label, externalize a thing over there that is not us.
What if what we think is evil is actually fear?
What if what we think is evil is actually crippling insecurity?
What if what we think is evil is the way bodies have taken in their experiences and formulated them in a way that allows them to survive?
Think about something you regret. A time when you were “evil”. That is a time when you were mean, cruel, callous, thoughtless, or violent.
Enter yourself at this time. This is difficult so be kind to yourself as you do it.
Think about what was happening for you.
Why did you say what you said?
Why did you hurt the person or beast that you hurt?
I’m not suggesting that we excuse anyone or anything.
I’m not suggesting that we don’t stand up for what is right.
I am suggesting that when we are afraid we attack.
And when we feel small we make ourselves big.
And we need to acknowledge all of this about all of us.
That healing our planet of violence and destruction is about understanding our suffering. Ours and those we feel are nothing like us.
When I think of the things I am not proud of having said or done I can trace it back to feeling hurt or feeling afraid. Sometimes feeling both hurt and afraid.
The smallest misstatement or slightest comment, even from someone we love and trust (especially from someone we love and trust perhaps) triggers us into a change in state. A state where the person’s intentions are at stake - they are not who we thought they were.
And when this happens I want to say things like “you always… ” or “how come you didn’t…” Everything I want to say is about how they are fundamentally not there for me.
I am cruel when I am hurt. Mean when I am afraid. I am not cruel because I’m bad or mean because I’m evil.
Again - I am not suggesting that we are not responsible for our actions and our words.
We are completely responsible.
More than responsible.
And because we are responsible we must grapple with our attitudes. Towards those closest to us always. And towards the figures that populate our news feed and newspapers.
We can all agree that there is suffering.
Can we agree that there is suffering behind the suffering behind the suffering?
And if we believe this what is our response?
Whatever each of us comes to - and we are each responsible for determining this for ourselves - whatever each of us comes to we need to hold the suffering context of what is happening.
When a client speaks to me with contempt I may have a variety of responses. I may show my anger in response. I may speak compassionately. I may make an interpretation. That is my job - to determine my response. But I must hold that even when I feel vulnerable to this person there is a complicated context full of suffering that brings this person to my room at this time.
And I must hold that my suffering accentuates my vulnerability to hers right now in my room at this time.