Some people are good (or good-ish). And some are bad (or bad-ish). And then, there are those who are…wait for it….
So what is this Evil – that’s just SO much worse, or different, or something, than plain old boring ‘bad’.
The poster-child for Evil is, of course, Hitler. Most of us agree that HE, at least, was evil. Or do we? Let’s see, he:
- ordered the extermination of the Jewish race (not to mention gypsies, people with disabilities, non-Aryans, etc)
- had lots of people tortured and murdered
- initiated the 2nd world war in which millions of people died
(and that was only a start!)
- was kind to children (relatives, or children of friends) on occasion;
- liked dogs
- was well behaved towards his mother
- (presumably) loved Eva Braun.
Maybe we can, but would his mum agree? It’s the function of mothers to find redeeming qualities in even the most rotten children, and who’s to say they’re wrong. Even an evil person’s still human, and all humans are a mix of good and bad (even the mostly bad ones) – arent they?
Besides, maybe ‘bad’ qualities have their uses, in the evolutionary sense – and that’s why we have them. For instance, what would become of an empathetic lion? If a herd of horses pitied and protected the weak, how long would that herd survive? Have you ever watched a group of teenage girls practice ‘innies and outies’? It looks a lot like adolescent cruelty, but it’s also training for survival in a society where you (and your babies) lived and died by your ability to cooperate, manipulate, compete and network.
We’re shocked when sexuality is misdirected (for instance, towards the wrong age group) but you can think of sexuality as a powerful current – normally it’ll go down the appointed channels but sometimes it’ll overflow the banks or rush off to the side to fill up pools and ditches it shouldn’t. And how do we define that ‘shouldn’t'? What’s sexually right for humans is sexually wrong for spiders. Chimps don’t recognise rape. Mohammed married a 12 year old girl and nobody called HIM a paedophile.
The bottom line is, our society doesn’t need or like highly aggressive, cruel, callous individuals (except when it does – in war, for instance) and to maintain social cohesion, we have to control them and punish them (except when we don’t – when they’re our leaders and managers, for instance).
So maybe we shouldn’t demonise people as ‘evil’ even though we might feel anger and disgust towards them – they’re just humans who happened to be born with, or develop, qualities that have more in common with hyenas, alliigators and preying mantises.
Do you reckon?