1/14/12

The question of evil

Waning Wolf Moon (age: 20.1 days)
Sign: Libra
Weather: Bitterly cold, overcast with wind out of the west
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I've been considering the question of evil for many, many years. I say question because in my faith, there is no deity or demigod of evil. There is no creed that affirms the traits of the gods to be as the Christian god, omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent. Is there cruelty in my gods, yes. But it is not malicious. It is very much so like the fate of the person who loses their home to a tornado. It is a cruel thing to happen but there is no moral judgment behind it.

Herein lies the crux of the question of evil, defining it. Some people say that evil is all form of suffering. Others say that it is to inflict suffering upon another with malice. Still others state that evil is to inflict unnecessary suffering upon another. I contend that evil can be defined as maliciously and deliberately inflicted suffering upon another being. I would further argue that there are two different categories of evil.

The first category is the suffering inflicted for the sake of suffering. Now, some people would argue that this is pure sadism. I have seen the benevolent face of sadism. It does exist. To call this pure sadism fails to consider the other variants of sadism that exist. It is when the suffering inflicted is done with out the consent of the victim. For the person who endures suffering willingly is making themselves part of the CAUSE of their suffering and become an active participant.

The second category is the suffering inflicted intentionally as part of an effort to create some type of effect. Think of the concentration camps of the Nazis. (Yes, I went the cheap route and invoked Godwin's law. It's the most recognized form of organized mass torture and murder, hence my choice.) These camps were created not only to inflict suffering upon people with out their consent but to achieve a larger goal, thereby bringing some benefit to the ones who are inflicting the suffering beyond the persecution of their victims.

Is the difference between these two forms of evil indicative of greater and lesser evils? Not really, evil is evil. There is no such thing as a lesser evil. There are different forms of evil, but the wise will reject evil in it's every form. Humanity has a talent for devising new forms of evil on a regular basis. It is something that sorrows me to see.

Is defending oneself from harm evil? No, it is a natural right. It is no more evil then fleeing from harm. Engaging in an unprovoked attack, however, IS evil and should be shunned. Do the gods engage in acts of evil? It is a distinct possibility but it is equally possible that they do not and we are misunderstanding their chaotic actions as evil, as harboring malice where there is none. To the fly that we swat, we may appear to be malicious and cruel when in actuality is was simply an action to halt the fly's biting into our skin. The fly's bite is no more evil then our crushing it with our hand.

Harm that derives from natural sources is unfortunate but a part of the experience of being alive. Evil, however, is the purview of humanity and similarly inclined spirits that are capable of the abstract reasoning that is necessary to produce it.

All of this, however, is simply my opinion.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing is that the criminal justice system fits into both of your categories of evil. Self-defense fits into the second one -- my karate instructor, for example, always taught us to hurt our opponent until they cease being able to hurt us once we engage them in combat. War could fit -- shock and awe, anyone? :-)

I'm trying to think of a counter-definition...

The Wife said...

Self defense or any other defensive action, in my opinion, would not fall under the category of evil because one is exercising their natural right to protect themselves and/or upholding their social responsibility for the protection of others.

Thank you for pointing out that I failed to note these things.

Aside from that, I can't really think of a circumstance were initiating a war is not an egregious act of evil. *shrugs* It's a thing that I am still puzzling out. The concept of a 'just' war is rather alien to me.