Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us EVIL.
Growing up Catholic, it was always imposed upon us that we were all born with original sin – whatever that was. It was also taught that whatever happened in your life, it was god’s will. Good things, bad things – all god’s will. And through it all, there would always be evil lurking in the shadows, eager to strike the unwitting populace.
They told me that before he was cast out of heaven, Lucifer was once God’s angel. But now he’s evil. My aunt attributes anything not Catholic to evil. Harry Potter – evil. Yoga – evil. Chinese food (because they have the pot-bellied Buddha by the door, and hence not Catholic) – evil, though after saying a prayer to absolve her of her sin of entering said Chinese establishment, she will then proceed to eat the once-evil and now-absolved food with gusto. So definitely, not so evil.
But in all seriousness, what is evil but a personal perception based on one’s knowledge that is heavily influenced by their culture, experiences, beliefs, and so many other factors – and whatever else has been shoved down one’s throat. All of us, I believe, can be evil – if we want to be. It all depends on how you look at it – and where you stand when you’re facing it.
Mean people are evil – although not in their minds – and they come in shapes and sizes, in all denominations and in all colors. So many things in this world are evil. But then so is chocolate, and the clothes that make my butt look big. And mean words meant to cow readers and listeners into submission.
So many things, it seems, can be evil. But not to the people who commit them.
I believe it all boils down to intention. What I do for a living, for example – massage – can be evil if I want it to be. Or, when boiled to the basics – human touch – can go either way. Nurturing, like when my husband or I massage my toddler’s feet every night, or its opposite, meant to restrict, demean or cripple growth of mind, body and spirit. Just read the news and you’ll see many examples of evil intentions linked to touch.
Maleficent, the much maligned witch of Sleeping Beauty fame and one of my favorite characters for I believe she’s so misunderstood, must have once been a nice person before the king and queen neglected to invite her to the princess’ christening. Then she turned evil. Or spurned. Or simply upset she didn’t get her own RSVP in the mail while everyone else who was somebody did.
With her, I really don’t know. I’m kinda on the fence. But maybe I’ll wait till the movie comes out to decide where I stand.
26 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Wicked Witch”
This is such a complex question that I daren’t start to write about it in depth, but I’d just make a couple of incomplete observations/questions:
– is there a difference between the dichtomy of right vs. wrong, and that of good vs. evil? If often seems to me that there is
– laws are intended to distinguish between right and wrong; morality or ethics between good and evil
– so laws don’t always follow the good/evil distinction, which means that they cannot be a moral compass or set of ethical guidelines
– ideally then, laws would reflect a set of moral or ethical beliefs, or else a particular set of ethical beliefs would be the guidelines for creating new laws
In practice, of course, it’s very hit and miss and laws often lag behind, or even contradict the morality or ethics of those who enforce them.
Are the absolutes of good and evil or right and wrong? That is the hardest question of all, since the rigidity of some worldviews has led to a reaction of rejection in favour of moral relativism, either cultural or individual. But moral relativism itself is not necessarily wrong; as with touch, in the example you cited above, it depends on the intent. If the intent of moral relativism is to promote tolerance or compassion or increase the rights of individuals and groups, it can be seen as good. If, on the other hand, moral relativism promotes harmful or selfish aims, then it’s bad.
So, do I believe in evil? Yes. How do I know it when I see it? I know it because it’s selfish, but selfish in a particular way, a way which is intended to cause harm without necessity.
So right now, evil is people who are meaninglessly and needlessly causing pain to others, siphoning off money intended to help others, and all for their own benefit and pleasure.
It happens. Though in their minds, I cannot believe that they truly believe what they’re doing is not evil, or at the very least, wrong. I guess that’s where conscience steps in.
Evil certainly is a term that can be black or white. It’s one or the other. There is no middle ground. The only difference is where you stand – whether it’s one side or the other. What is evil to someone is not to the other person opposite him.
I remember when discussing this that someone pointed out that there are few examples of exceptionless moral principles, because we can imagine variant situations in which exceptions might exist to any given more principle. (Eg, a prohibition against killing may be outweighed by a greater claim). However, it is not a given that those exceptions will exist in every situation to excuse someone who is doing wrong. In the case both you and I are thinking of, those mitigating factors don’t seem to exist.
Does the people doing these things evil? Again, it depends on intent. In moral dilemmas, as in law, mens rea can be the defining element.
It’s definitely something that popped in my head when I wrote my post for the Daily Prompt. I don’t approve of evil, of course and there are many examples in history that prove that evil exists. But it made me think of the moral dilemma a defense attorney faces when having to defend a client whom they know, or who has let’s say, even admitted to being guilty within the client-attorney interactions.
The dilemma of having to do something your moral sense defines as ‘wrong’ in order to do something ‘right’ is always present and described sometimes in terms of ‘claims’. So, if you are doing something morally or legally wrong to feed your family or to defend your own life, you have to weigh whether the ‘rights’ outweigh the wrongs. Even in the case of defending a criminal whom you know to be guilty, I suppose that there is a claim on the defense attorney which outweighs everything else, just as there would be for a firefighters, police officer or doctor saving the life of that same criminal.
RA actually discussed this conflict in relation to the duties of soldiers in general, and John Porter in particular, in a radio interview and made some very interesting and thoughtul observations.
I think that was that long interview on YouTube that came in 3 parts or so, right? I think I put that down as my favorite interview of his during my 30-day RA challenge. It’s the same dilemma hospital workers felt when they had to treat the young man involved in the Boston marathon bombing. Duty.
It was this interview with David Stephenson,
[audio src="http://richardarmitagecentral.co.uk/racwordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/armitagefulldavidstephenson.m4a" /]
transcript pages 1-4
Thanks for that! I’ll definitely give it a listen 🙂
I meant to type “Does that *make* the people doing these things evil”?
With the mess at the Post Office, her invitation could still be delivered….I am ever hopeful of still getting mine.
On a more serious note, as you know, since I don’t believe in the devil, I look at this from a different perspective. I believe that people do things because they choose to. Evil or good. I believe that people are born either inherently good or inherently evil. There are learned traits, obviously, racism, sexism, most of the “isms,” but “the devil made me do it,” doesn’t wash with me. No one can “make” you do anything you do not choose to do. Even the greatest of Hypnotists will tell you that those “weak minded’ people who fall under their spells cannot be made to do anything that their conscience would not let them do. Not everyone who is raised in a single parent household becomes a member of a gang, has the “the gang mentality,” and go around hurting people. Those who do, would hurt people whether they were in a gang or not because it is in their nature to do evil. Why do you think they relish the fame of putting it on Facebook, brag about it by getting a tattoo, or try to force their beliefs on others? Just as good tends to be drawn to good, evil is drawn to evil. You cannot and will never change a human’s nature. Just as you cannot change a wild animal into a domestic animal, just because you feed them. I am now done with my OP-ED.
I had no idea the ‘single-parent household’ lie was still being promoted so widely. You would have thought that Steubenville and all the other cases featuring kids from two-parent middle class families would have put paid to that.
But what you said about Evil being inherent in some people rings true for me. I have often thought that the common thread is that those who are evil do not think of others as ‘real’, with emotions and sensations similar to their own, or distinguish them from their own needs or desires. I think that this lies at the root of all evil.
BTW the idea that evil is drawn to evil is borne out by various examples of serial killer couples. Examples include Marie Delphine and Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka and the trio of Saul Betesh, Robert Kribs and Josef Woods (to know only a tiny sampling).
Definitely agree that it all boils down to personal choice. It’s just easier to blame someone else for the choices we make and relieve ourselves of that responsibility.
I’m still waiting for my invitation as well.
Check’s in the mail. We’re here help. hahahaha. lovies.