The popular image of evil is some sexy guy who skulks around in the dark and performs incantations in ringing tones
reminiscent of the late Richard Burton. My image of evil is much more mundane. Evil is simply making choices that
cause others to suffer.
Most people cause the most suffering for others unintentionally. They may realise on some level they are doing it,
but conveniently forget the consequences of their actions. Because nearly everyone else in their society is doing
those same actions, they excuse themselves. What am a talking about? Here are a few examples of modern day evil:
Destruction of the Ecology
People do all sorts of things that degrade the environment and push it ever closer to collapse. Such things include:
- Driving SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles)
when a much smaller car would do equally well. CO₂
global warming. Other emissions make the people around you sick. Look at Jakarta or Mexico city where this way of
thinking has been taken to a ridiculous extreme. You just can’t breathe there. It is stifling.
- Refusing to carpool.
- Refusing to use public transportation.
- Deliberately building energy-inefficient homes as a conspicuous consumption status display.
- Corporate executives that insist every employee commute many miles each day rather than locating outside the
downtown core, or allowing telecommuting.
- Refusal to use environmentally-friendly detergents.
- Refusal to recycle.
Destruction of Our Food
In the name of profit, companies sell apple juice that contains no apples and lemonade without lemons. They irradiate
fresh food which reduces its nutrition to the equivalent of cooked food. They introduce all manner of untested
chemicals as pesticides and additives. Genetic modifications have drastically reduced the nutrition of food in the
last 50 years, all in the name of profit.
What is the matter with people that they meekly put up with this nonsense?
Cruelty to Animals
Chickens are raised in the most appalling conditions with their feet wired to the bottoms of cages and their beaks
clipped. They are packed so tightly they cannot even turn around. Yet people continue to buy eggs and poultry raised
this way rather that paying a few cents more for free range chickens that have a little room to move.
The actions of tuna fishers are decimating the dolphin populations. Tuna companies put phony dolphin-friendly
labels on their tuna, but kill just as many dolphins. People continue to purchase tuna knowing fully well they are
forcing the dolphins to extinction.
Cattle are fattened in feed lots packed so tightly the animals are covered in feces. People close their eyes to
this institutional cruelty done in their behalf. Veal are raised in tiny pens never once seeing the light of day.
Companies like Nescafé squeeze the third world to produce coffee and chocolate at slave wages. People buy it
knowing full well Nescafé’s reputation and the dirty tricks they pulled with infant formula that killed
thousands of babies. People flatly refuse to pay fair trade prices for goods from the third world. Talk about kicking
someone when he is down!
Very few people do anything at all to help people in the third world, not even sponsor a child. People have no
sense of proportion. They see as absolute necessity some toy or bauble, where providing water, medicine or food for a
child in the third world is an entirely optional luxury.
If the politicians you elect start wars, stomp all over small third world nations, or enact regressive environmental
and energy policies, it is your fault. They could not do that had you not given them permission to.
Christians in particular seem to think they know what is best for others and meddle uninvited into others’
affairs. If they can’t meddle directly, they enact laws to meddle on their behalf. For example:
- Laws against someone terminally ill getting help dying to end their suffering.
- Laws against people with extreme nausea from using marijuana to control it. The meddlers don’t care that
there is no other drug that works. They don’t care that they put others through needless months and years of
- Laws telling people what is suitable reading or viewing material.
Why Do People Sin?
- They rationalise that their sins won’t be noticed in the grand scheme of things. Of course, since nearly
everyone thinks that way, their sins are quite noticeable in the aggregate.
- They don’t like being inconvenienced. We westerners are soft and spoiled. We see it as excessive hardship
to make even the tiniest sacrifices for the common good.
- Advertising bleats 24 hours a day convincing people to consume, consume, consume. Most people are sheep and go
along with it.
- Most people are totally involved with the petty details of their existences. They rarely look up and out the
world at large to consider how their actions are affecting others.
- People are stingy. They don’t like it they have to pay more for free range eggs, so they conveniently
forget what it is they are paying extra for, similarly for fair trade coffee.
The traditional Christian view of evil is a complete red herring. Thinking about sex does not hurt anyone else.
Praying to the wrong god does not hurt anyone else. Failing to believe in the mumbo jumbo of some particular
Christian sect hurts no one else. What does hurt them is polluting their air and water, screwing up their climate and
forcing them to work for slave wages. The most horrendous animal abuse is legal, sanctioned and happens behind closed
doors. It is a bit like the way the good German burgers pretended nothing untoward was happening to the Jews even
though they knew perfectly well that was not so.
We have swallowed the notion that corporations need have no other morality than to maximise profit. Maximising
profit usually means encouraging conspicuous consumption and waste, hardly in line with preserving the environment.
Unfortunately, it seems, most people have swallowed this as a personal morality as well.