Some disquieting thoughts about our inability to see evil.
Even when they do see it, they tell themselves they didn’t.
Humans are what they are. It’s a spectrum. The stupid thing we do is not understand it’s a spectrum and that we all share traits with both Hitler and mother Theresa. Putting killers into a separate box is the problem. They are not different. They are us. Knowing any personally proves that.
Step 1 is to come to the realization that evil exists…it just…is.
You have to throw away quaint notions of a “troubled youth”, or whatever rationalization one might use to explain to oneself why people do the bad stuff they do. Lots of people refuse to admit that some people are just bastiges. Lots of people do not want to admit that these bad things can be done. I know Pro-Choice women who, when I asked about the Gosnell case, said, “I blank that stuff out of my mind because it’s too awful.”
It’s important to know what that person coming up to your door might be capable of. Then you might not be surprised.
Once you do that you have taken a giant step towards seeing evil where it exists.
When the stranger rode up to the ranch house, they would generally get a friendly welcome, but holding a shotgun at the ready.
Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
It took me 26 years to recognize that I was married to one…
During middle school there was a kid that I shared homeroom with who was always getting into trouble, but just little stuff. He would screw around with school equipment and absentmindedly break it, that sort of thing. I shared a few other classes with him and even ended up teamed up with him for projects from time to time. But he didn’t really seem that unusual. During my senior year of high school he and several of his friends robbed a convenience store and in the process he beat to death one store clerk with a metal bar and nearly killed the other clerk in the same way. He’s now on death row.
If you would have asked me which of my classmates would become a brutal murderer I would have listed many others ahead of him. There was another classmate who was quite alienated, had very poor personal hygiene, and had no friends whatsoever, though I just tracked down his facebook and he seems quite normal, if lonely.
What this emphasizes to me is the utter banality of evil. It can be very difficult to judge people, especially about things they keep so deep in their heart. And people can change quickly too. Morality is often conditional, for some folks more than others. For every individual who becomes a monster there are likely many more who are capable of it, under the right circumstances.
The other interesting thing is that the things we consider to be at the core of “life”, making friends and lovers, engaging in conversation and relationships, etc. is often more superficial than we’re willing to admit.
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