Dec 10, 2007

Evil

Evil exists in this world and anybody who tells you it doesn't is lying to you and probably about a lot of other things as well.
But this begs a very prickly moral question: Do people do evil or does Evil, itself, use people to accomplish its nefarious goals?
I imagine that most folks really never give very much consideration to these kinds of questions and that's why most of them are complete idiots. How can you fight Evil if you can't recognize it? And, more importantly, how can you know the difference?
I think back on all of the great Villains of history both real and fictional, and I wonder how many of them actually set out to accomplish Evil. It seems to me that most or all of them were only doing what they believed to be Right from their own point of view. And I would be willing bet better than even money that there was some profound epiphany or watershed moment in all of their lives that led them to become sinister agents.
I often wonder what small childhood slight brought Hitler to the pinnacle of his maniacal power. Is it really possible that simply being rejected by the art school in Vienna caused him to go on to kill six million people for no good reason at all and plunge the world into a chaos so profound that we're still recovering from it? What other demons haunted him in the long hours of his restless nights? One can only speculate. Theories abound as to the cause of his madness but nobody really knows for sure. The suicide of his niece who was also his lover? Latent homosexuality? A profound inferiority complex? Who can say?
But most contemporary people don't think too much about Hitler, so let's take a look at Darth Vader. Now everybody knows his story. All he wanted was the love of a good woman and to protect her from the danger he knew was out there; either Real or Imagined. And in the course of attempting to do this very thing he was drawn down the Dark Path and wound up losing everything he held dear. Imagine the kind of rage and fury that this kind of thing would inspire in most people and the worse it got, the more he tried to fix it; to repair the damage, until he was blind to all else and anybody that stood in the way of his goal was an Enemy and had to dispatched at once. He was, finally, a victim of his circumstances and of his abilities and knowledge. He passed into shadow because he knew things that the people around him didn't and he could see the course of events unfolding and all he wanted to do was to preserve what he felt was important and meaningful. Is that Evil? Did he become evil or did Evil take hold of him because of his weaknesses and twist him out of true?
But now we must contend with the idea of some ontological plateau where Evil exists as an entity unto itself. Can Evil really be Out There, lurking in the shadows and waiting for a chance to stir up Trouble? Is Evil a reality that exists beyond the actions and fate of mere men? Do men create Evil or does Evil create evil men? Is there a darkness reaching out for the darkness?
Sure, I know what you're thinking and I know that you can see where this thing is heading. Yes. We all want to believe in redemption. But it's been my experience that there are some crimes for which there can be no exculpation. And I, myself, have tried on numerous occasions to repair the damage in my life and every time I tried I ended up failing miserably and not always because of my own shortcomings. I have been continually let down by the people I was involved with and because I couldn't better maintain and control the circumstances of what was transpiring around me or even to me, for that matter. And I have been called an Evil Man on more than one occasion. Why? I always did what I thought was Right. And if I fell prey to some inner weakness or personal defect or even sickness, well, then I was still Evil and had to go on my way as best as I could and carry all the scars and pain with me. And we all know how the scars can curse us. Just think of the Phantom of the Opera or Quasimodo and even Darth Vader himself. There are many scars, both literally and figuratively, and they can all cause us to act foolishly.
So, I've given up on all that gibberish and I've decided that if Evil I have been labeled, then Evil I shall be. But I have a few questions that need answers. To Wit:
1. How does one get the Funding to engage in a full-time career of Evil? After all, we've all heard the Evil scientists insisting that they "Called me Mad at the University!" so I can't depend on Academia for my research and experiments. And, trust me, my Work is important.
2. Does the Government offer some kind of Grant or Endowment for this kind of thing? I imagine that it's going to cost me some pretty serious dollars to get a Tower on the crag of some cliff by the ocean or a castle on the moors. And I'll just bet that the price of an island shaped like a skull is so high that I can't even get my head around it. What kind of real estate agent handles things like this?
3. Will the private sector support an Evil operation of this nature? After all, in the Free Marketplace wouldn't Evil be considered a Danger to the stock market? I mean, if I could threaten the entire world and hold nations at bay, surely it would have some kind of ripple effect on international finance.
4. Where should my research begin? I suppose I could start small and do things like switch the brain of a man with the brain of a chicken, or invent some kind of low-level Death Ray that could incinerate a sky scraper. And then I could move on to more ambitious projects like a Moon Based Super Laser or the Sun Crusher, you know, something would involve devastation on a planetary scale. Yes. Then I would be taken seriously. Besides, all the small-time junk like tying girls to buzz saws and foreclosing on orphanages just strikes me as only slightly better than street thuggery and I want no part of that.
5. Would my being Evil mean that I would get prettier chicks, faster cars and cooler clothes? I think we can all agree that Evil has always been…well, cooler than Good. Sure, we all knew that Luke Skywalker was going to win, but Darth Vader was a bad ass. We wanted to know more about him. What was behind that mask? That's why the last three movies told his story. We needed to know what made him the way he was. Evil is just more interesting. And we all know how chicks dig the Bad Boys.
6. Where do I enlist Henchmen? Is there some kind of agency that you call? Where are they trained? Is there some school or college that specializes in Henchmechanics? I need to know these kinds of things if I get serious about my Evil.
Well…you can see my dilemma. I need to find out about these things and there's no 800 number to call 24 hours a day for free brochures.
And there may even be some serious messages and lessons here too. Evil doesn't come out of a bottle and doing what's Right isn't always popular or even understood in some circles. Some people think Evil is whatever goes against their beliefs or goals or the fulfillment of their immediate desires. And those people are the Real Evil in this life. So be careful how you treat people and watch what you say. And remember that behind every act of apparent Evil there's probably just a very scared, insecure person who has been hurt so much that they can't get over it or even understand why it has happened to them and all they want is to Strike Back in whatever way they can. And, most of all, they're probably just trying to make sense of a life that has left them confused and lost.

2 comments:

drumdance said...

The best way to get people to commit evil is to convince them they're doing good. See the Inquisition, the Cultural Revolution and torture at Gitmo.

Dale said...

re: Darth Vader, the perspective we must maintain when considering Anakin Skywalker's slide into shadow while trying to do good is a) he was being lied to by an ontological evil (which we are not assured exists in our part of the universe); and b) he was trying to benefit only himself.

My take on this is that a) one must make sure of one's data; and b) one mustn't limit one's good to oneself.