3 minute read
Where evil lurks
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
Unless you’re willfully blind, most people would agree that evil is all around us. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe a supernatural source of that evil, we can all agree that bad—even evil—things happen to good people.
There’s the malevolence of genocide, plundering national resources, and human trafficking, just to name a few things. Combat these evils we must, to be sure. And not all of us can do everything. So you may be called to address one thing and that’s good.
Or maybe you see evil on a smaller scale, within the region where you live. Like state or provincial elected officials in your not being servant leaders for all their constituents but making decisions that favor one group over the other, either by affinity or by out and out bribes. While we may not automatically think of such things as examples of “evil”, we can at least agree that they are not good things. Perhaps you feel moved to do something about political corruption.
Perhaps you’re moved to combat evil in your community, like addressing the evils of homelessness, poverty, or food insecurity. Fighting against these things so that human beings may be rescued from want and freed to flourish is also a very good thing.
Evil lurks close by
Let’s go even smaller: our day-to-day relationships. While I’m not suggesting you’re an “evil” person, can we not agree that jealousy, slander, and anger are not good things? And if they are not good things, that makes them bad things, right? And as “bad” is “not good”, and “evil” is also “not good”, can we not say that “bad” is a part of a spectrum? Perhaps, even, a part of the spectrum of evil things?
Even in our day-to-day relationships, there is much that can be categorized in the spectrum of evil things.
Symptoms or source?
So this begs the question: when we fight evil/bad, are we fighting the symptoms or the source? And if not the source, what is that source?
Oh, sure, we can disrupt human trafficking rings. Or replace corrupt politicians with honest ones. Or build affordable housing for the homeless. Or make amends to the people in our lives we’ve hurt. But do these actions permanently stop all human trafficking? Or make sure there is never a corrupt politician? Or finally solve the problem of homelessness? Or ensure that neither you nor I will ever hurt our loved one again?
Of course not. In spite of our best intentions and heroic efforts, these malevolent cycles continue and we remain tilting at windmills.
The true source of all evil
Why is that? Could it be that we are not addressing the source of that evil? And what is that “source”? Surely these evils we’ve talked about span geographies and people groups and time. Can there really be one source of evil fueling all of these disparate things?
Yes, there can and is. It’s called the human heart. Think about that.
“The darkness does not flow from my being to them, but out of their hearts and into my skin. I don't inspire your evil. I never did. You offer it to me, from the gravest crime to the smallest indifference.” --Phil Hester