Apr 6, 2008

Explain Evil

This is another one of those serious, rambling posts that will turn off some of the people who like my blog. Others who regularly comment on these types of post hopefully are doing it because they enjoy "deep thoughts", not because they're worried about my mental health and think I can benefit from a little veiled counseling. :) Though I wouldn't blame you. I'm sure I sound crazy on this blog sometimes. That's the nature of hyperthermic ventation.

Yesterday, Skywalker and I watched a special on the hunger relief efforts in the Congo among the Congolese and Liberian peoples. In this program, we saw a lot of beautiful African people who had been rendered homeless by warring tribes/factions. Among the atrocities committed were house-razing and burning, rape, random public executions, torture, the kidnapping and forced enlistment of child soldiers. Really, everything possible that could be considered evil was done to people by these warring factions. I turned to Skywalker and asked "Why? What was their motive?"

I'm so glad that Skywalker didn't respond to me the way the few other people I've talked to about stuff like this did: a shrug. Or a statement like "who can explain evil?"

I'm sorry, but I have to have evil explained to me. Human beings, IMO are never inherently evil. There is something that has motivated them to become that way. Not saying they couldn't have made a different choice, no, not at all. But I, for instance, have never thought of torturing or kidnapping and forcedly recruiting a child into my guerrilla army. I live a privileged lifestyle. I never want for much, except for a good wash job on my car. With these people, we're talking mud huts and not enough seed for food AND planting, even with suplimental aid. We're talking bicycles for the rich, jobs for the extremely fortunate, and clean water by the Grace of God.

What are the motives of evil? Why would a group of people want to burn down the homes of extremely impoverished people? Why would public executions of women and children seem like a good idea? What did it take for these people to stop seeing the faces in front of them?

This is a real question. I will give my answer in the comments section, and if anyone else wants to take a stab at it, I'd be very appreciative.


NoSurfGirl said...

I think that the only thing that dehumanizes to the extent we're talking about is fear. I think that blinding, crippling fear can be found behind every atrocious act performed on another human being. A person loses his or her conscience only when he or she feels they cannot afford to keep it, because it makes him or her too vulnerable to other people. I think this can even apply to rapists and serial killers. Though some would argue their motive is power, I would respond, why do they feel so powerless?

Putz said...

like you life is so precious to me, my father is dying and he is my hero, evil acts takes life, and i can't understand whether power or fear or stupidity are the reasons...mark twain, john denver, martin king, gandi, many other's writings make me sob, and i'll tell ya the children are hurt the worst, this whirling, twirling, bunched up ball of death and pain and gore and horror

Josh said...

I think you've nailed it dead on. Evil is afraid, afraid of being so powerless. I just wonder what leads someone to fear so greatly that it leads them to atrocities that destroy others as an attempt to fulfill needs that can never be fulfilled. I think it's some sort of selfishness or pride. Some people may argue that every man is worried about number one and the only reason things we see as atrocities don't occur elsewhere in the world on such a grand scale is because we haven't got a personal reason to act that way. We have found other ways to get what we want. I guess that's kind of a Hobbesian way of looking at things. And maybe that's how the "natural" man thinks or works. But I also think there is a part of man that abhors that way of thinking and acting. I think a part of mankind may be naturally selfish (the effects of which I believe fall under the law of increasing disorder [entropy]) but I also think mankind finds purpose in selflessness. I believe that is evident in how a new mommy and daddy feel about their new child and how they, at least for a time, don't care about their own needs and only the needs of their newborn. Or why someone who loses someone they loved while they still held hard feelings toward that person wishes they could get some time back with that person to say I'm sorry. It's what gets men and women like Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, my mother, and others to lose themselves for others. It was the whole life of our Savior from Galilee. Selfishness destroys; losing yourself brings life and joy. So why would someone choose selfishness fueled by fear over the joy that comes through losing yourself? I don’t really know. We each have the ability to make our own choices and each of us have different life experiences and come from cultures that think differently. There are so many factors that influence an individual’s life. But only one factor that chooses how we react to those influences, our will. I pray for those that feel so hopeless that they forget about their ability to find joy and instead attempt to vainly feed an unsatiated hunger. I guess I proposed more questions than I answered. But I think you sparked a very provoking thought with truth. Thank you.