By: Ryan Pettigrew
Evil is still one of the most widely misunderstood concepts of our day, which invites manipulation, so it becomes vital to thoroughly understand its core to avoid being deceived. Politicians, religious leaders and promoters of different ideologies use it as a label for those who disagree with their beliefs; tricking their followers into believing that they are on a moral crusade, when in reality, they are only pawns in a power struggle. Much of what’s labeled “evil” nowadays isn’t, and can even be good, so the first step is to set apart reality from illusion. Money is falsely labeled as the root of all evil, but, as Mattie Poppins pointed out in our discussion on the issue, if this were true, then evil would’ve began at the creation of money and that’s not the case. Evil began with mankind but I disagree with Christianity’s belief that humans are inherently evil since most people don’t commit evil acts.
Evil comes in two forms: thought and action; the former a prerequisite to the latter but they have common cores. Evil is force and/or aggression (not in self-defense), whether in thought or action. Murder, assault, sex crimes, theft, verbal abuse, robbery, deception and any other form of evil, start with an evil thought that gets revealed through an aggressive/forceful act; although, not every evil thought is acted upon since most people control it. Even deception (not white lies) is forceful because it manipulates people into acting as the deceiver wishes, nullifying the voluntary component.
All acts of force and aggression stem from fear (including insecurity and jealousy) and/or anger. Fear and anger themselves are natural human emotions but become evil when released in forceful or aggressive ways. Both can also be released in healthy ways as well, but that’s a choice, a choice between good and evil.
Since fear and anger are emotions, they are created by a conscious decision to feel a certain way about any given situation. As that same emotion is given to similar things, the subconscious takes over and it becomes automatic. Fear or anger is chosen over happiness or indifference, so it becomes a question of why. Why the choice of negative emotion when one can just as easily choose a positive emotion?
Fear comes from ignorance, as we fear what we don’t understand, including the insecurity that’s caused by one’s inability to understand life and the true self. Anger stems from believing that someone should’ve acted differently than he/she did, and both are the result of irrational thought. Rational humans seek to understand that which they don’t comprehend rather than ignoring and fearing it; while accepting everything as it is rather than placing expectations on things beyond their control.
It becomes clear that irrational thought is the root to all evil, since it leads to fear and anger that causes evil thought, which can be released in evil action. Since that’s the case, reason (rational thinking) is the root of everything that’s good and is the highest form of virtue. Thus, we should all strive to be people of reason so that we can destroy evil at its core.