I do not subscribe to the Manichean philosophy that life is a constant struggle between the forces of evil and the forces of good. Too often this doctrine is used as a rationale for wholesale slaughter. This is not to deny the existence of evil in the world. To deny it is to slip into the error of believing that evil doesn’t exist; that there are only social and material conditions that cause people to behave in unacceptable ways.
For that matter, in our therapeutic age, evil is now defined as inappropriate behavior, as if all we need do with evildoers is send them to the principal’s office. One of the reasons for this change is that the face of evil has changed. Evil no longer wears a ferocious face, with drools of viscera hanging from its fanged grimace.
The face of evil is smooth and clean shaven; it is moisturized and Botoxed. Evil speaks softly and in measured tones. Instead of rack and stake it uses flawed premises from which it constructs strings of linear reasoning that trap and ensnare.
Evil is no longer a sneering devil; it is a smiling sociopath.
The evil of old dispatched with broad sword and halberd; today’s evil dispatches with a raised eyebrow that can send hundreds of thousands to their death.
Yesterday’s evil sought power and land; today’s evil wants only to maximize profits.
Yesterday’s evil destroyed villages and cities; today’s evil is destroying the earth.
The tragic truth is that this evil is facilitated by a sodden, passive grey mass that has been taught to behave and considers both protest and dissent as “unacceptable” behavior. Virtue is now equated as collaborating with evil through our silence.
The Indian writer Arundhati Roy describes this evil when she asks, “What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profits?”
A good question. What does happen now?