It is important.

Evil has always been with us. It always will be. The difference, the crucial difference between a good world and a bad one is the balance. And we are the balance keepers.

Bad men with too much power are the face of that evil. Just as good men with a balanced amount of power are the face of good.

It is our job to make sure we have plenty of the latter, and as few as possible of the former. It is our job to….in bad times, do all we can do to preserve that balance. And in good times to move that balance as much as we can to the good.

It is our job, because it is within our power to determine what kind of men we put in power. Just as it is our job to try to remove them if they go bad. That is the choice we face, and that is responsibility we have to the world that gave us life.

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people he doesn’t exist.”

If he, if evil, doesn’t exist, we don’t have to do anything but accept that we are powerless and go about our business. But it does, evil does, the Devil does, exist. We see it all around us, all the time.

But it tries to convince us that there is nothing we can do about it

It has always been this way. (It tells us) That is just how it is. This is how the world works and you are a fool if you try to change it, you can’t fight City Hall.

We have to accept evil, because we have always accepted evil. In fact, anyone who says that we don’t have to accept evil….is evil.

Because that person upsets the current balance between good and evil….a balance that we have all reluctantly killed part of our souls to “accept.” We have to, in order to not fight evil every time we see it. Which since there IS so much of it, we just cannot do. So we all find a way to accept evil. And then we resent those who tell us not to accept it.

So then, to the deep annoyance of our complacent acceptance  …..anyone who says that we do not have to accept evil….is evil. In the eyes of our acceptance and our complacency.

Because after all, I have gone to all of this trouble to accept evil.

And now you are telling me I was wrong to accept that evil, that evil that everyone told me I had to accept.

But now you are telling me to stop accepting that evil…..which is evil of you, after I have already killed part of my soul to accept evil.

This is how evil wins.

That is how it always is when we are faced with an opportunity to stop evil, by actually speaking up, by acting. When it is time to try to stop it. There are always those who say we cannot stop it. It is the choice we all face. Whether to stand up and stop it….or to move forward. It is a hard choice, it is supposed to be hard. It is supposed to be the hardest thing we ever do.

That is why it is important.

But we can, it can start to stop now. Again. For a while. We can shift the balance, now.


We have reached peak evil, for now. Again. And every time you reach peak evil there is a period when you can stop. A period when we can choose to rest and to either let the evil subside and fade back to it’s baseline of evil. A period where we can pretend nothing happened, or….a period where you, where we, as humans, can say no….this evil was too big, too bad….this is where this evil must stop. This is where we must stand up.

We reached that peak of evil in 1945, when we saw the images of the camps. And we, as humans, said no. That was too evil. That must stop, that must not happen again.

And it hasn’t. We stopped that evil.

Evil, in the form of bad men with too much power, has tried to do it again, but we haven’t let it. Not on that scale.

We decided it wouldn’t, and it hasn’t.

We HAVE that power. We do.


And here we are….again. We have another chance to stop it.

Another bad man got too much power and he used it to wage an unnecessary war and to torture. Because he was terrified.

And now it is up to us to make sure it never happens again. It is our turn. And this opportunity to stop evil is unique, for in the past it has always been others who stopped the evil, who defeated it, and punished it…..and stopped it.

And each time we HAVE learned. A bit. But this time is unique.

Because this time it was US who did it.

It was us who was that bad…..relatively speaking.

It was us who gave into the evil this time.

And so US exposing our own evil and repudiating it….and stopping it from happening again….a bit…(and even the tiniest bit matters) is new. It is a new chapter in our human responsibility to stop the evil that we men do.

It is important.

And it is our responsibility.

Yes of course it is tempting to move on, to look forward.

To accept this evil.

To not shift the balance. To allow just this one evil to pass forward into history without being corrected, without being stopped….even a bit. Yes we can do that. It is indeed……tempting.

It always is.


Or we can do our job as humans, fulfill our obligations to humanity and take this opportunity, fulfill this responsibility, to shift the balance….to stop it. A bit. Again.

It is important.



Skip to comment form

  1. Photobucket

  2. 20 years ago I wouldn’t have even noticed it, but now it kind of leaps out at me.

    It is our job, because it is within our power to determine what kind of men we put in power.

    That’s just one example, it’s in many places in this essay.

    “Men.”  Used to be that “man” and “men” meant all folks, men and women.

    Even now I don’t always automatically correct that, have to put some conscious effort (esp. when writing “congressmen” – tend to say “representatives” instead, as “congresscritters” kind of turns my stomach).

    It’s worth the effort, I think, though, for the very reasons you write about in this essay.

    As for the notion of evil … I think we need to think “never again” even as we know it will not be “never again.”

    I dunno, “good and evil” is open to so much misinterpretation — but when we see something like torture, it is so obvious.  I don’t see any other word for it but “evil.”

  3. I think we have actually reached “peak evil” in humanity several times. Not just the camps but in several genocides. Those who were victims or witnesses are often shuttled aside by those who grow weary of looking in the mirror.

    Inevitably people say…”well that will never happen again” and it does.

    Part of the problem is knowing what or who to fight against and knowing when to tactically withdraw in order to fight another battle.

  4. The “face of good” can be convinced that “torture” is not really “torture” if it is being done in some abstract clothing of “good”: patriotism, democracy… etc etc.

    Good men and women are often shielded from the truth and led to believe they are acting justly.

  5. from one of my favorite movies 😉

    “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people he doesn’t exist.”

    • Metta on May 5, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    felt that by refusing to look at evil or accept it’s existence many on the part of the “enlightened left” (dare I say the new age wing?) have handicapped themselves to finding realistic solutions and being a helpful ally in bringing about real change. It’s similar to the suppression of emotions, fear, anger that always come back to haunt you either emotionally and/or physically.  Exactly like the Devil’s best trick… It’s tricky though, saying one is accepting it, I am a semantical  hyper-vigilent, I prefer; accepting it’s existence, not being blind to it, choosing to see it rather then refusing to acknowledge it’s inherant dangers.  That’s just me maybe.

    Thank you for this.  I’m all on board, and sadly, feel like I’ve been passively waiting for someone to bring this up.  It’s angering and heartbreaking to have to acknowledge our part in this.  I don’t think we can move ahead if we don’t though.  If it’s difficult for the open minded to accept, just think of the implications for those that want to remain in the dark (if “want” is a part of it)…  Maybe it is this particular time in history or just my state of mind, my heart is heavy.

    The ying and the yang, a potent reminder, so clear and simple.

    Humbly, Metta

  6. it is hard, like others have said, the whole concept has been co–opted, trademarked and copyrighted. And they… well I have some family members who are evangelicals, and having been raised Catholic, I guess Im hyper-sensitive to the Good vs. Evil frame-up.

    The “answer” is not to deny its very existence however, not at all. Re-frame perhaps.

    I seem to do better with… ideas of evolve, and movement in a forward/future/higher direction, toward something, toward “a more perfect union”, toward The Ultimate Good which is perfect love… but neither is it isolated in time, past present future, or place.

    It is important, then, to participate, to be a part of, to engage in good acts, acts of love, acts of kindness, acts of truth, is to build and strengthen that movement, collectively, not for personal salvation or gain, but for the reaching of that There, for all of us.

    Ya know, kumbayah and all. 🙂

    Shadows and Light, Joni Mitchell

  7. is that the fight against evil can very easily fall prey to dogmatism if not overshadowed by the good we are fighting for.  

  8. We don’t need no pontificating pricks do we.

    Several years ago I found and then started passing around a link to a company that managed the perception of “their” specific peasantry for profit.  The pompous Orwellian nature of it pushed my buttons.  I was born/blessed with a natrural distrust of authority especially if it’s Machiavellian.  Quite sure the company didn’t go anywhere as they operate in 27 countries.  The main links don’t work anymore but others do and speak to the evil it is.

    You can’t handle the truth and you are a peasant, it says.

    Did I do that?  Nah, can’t get all full of myself.

    Strategic Communications Laboratories.

    • rb137 on May 6, 2009 at 2:10 am

    But it isn’t just good and evil that we have to balance. If we want to flood a desert we have to empty an ocean — so I want to suggest that awareness will keep us from doing a lot of harm. I think a lot of things that aren’t evil cause tremendous suffering in the world, and part of fulfilling our obligations to humanity have to do with being conscious of our actions.

    Yes, you are absolutely right that we cannot allow some things to pass forward into history without being corrected. But we have to watch how we correct, as well.

    Thought provoking diary.

    • kj on May 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    there exists in this world, today, everywhere among us, ‘conservatives’ who still watch Fox News and listen to Rush.  they are people.  they are no any more evil than you or me.

    and some of them are deeply empathetic people who act on that empathy.  i know these people. they drive for hours at night to deliver sandbags for towns trying to hold back the river; they drive for hours at night on ice-covered roads through ice storms that have downed power lines and trees and closed entire towns to deliver generators to shelters. when they finally reach their destination and deliver their loads, they have trouble turning back, the desire to stay and help is that overpowering.  no empathy?  really?

    i also know people who don’t seem to have an ounce of empathy.  if those people were on fire across the road? well,  i’d certainly call 911, but go help them?  maybe, maybe not.  they aren’t all republicans, either.  harsh?  yeah. i’m made of steel and mush.

    so some of us are ‘moving on’ by staying open and aware right where we find ourselves.  among people of another political persuasion that have the same wants, needs, desires as i do.  that maybe have ’embraced their shadow’ or maybe have not.  people i want to continue to inform, as a friend, about the acts of torture and war that have been done in our name.

    ‘you’ fight your battles, i’ll fight mine.  and part of my battle is an awareness that accepting my own shadow is work of a lifetime.

    • kj on May 6, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    if there is anything i’ve learned in these 50 plus years on earth it is that anyone, anyone! can talk a good game.  can spout all the warm fuzzy empowering slogans that exist, write moving pieces centered on their themes and hang Chinese ink paintings depicting their essence on the walls of their homes. (wabi sabi is now a big thing in the world of design. lol!)

    but those people who actually act on the principles?  use them as a basis and measuring stick for their words and actions, with an awareness of how difficult and generally thankless and unnoticed the effort?   few and far between.  but more than i imagined existed!

    so i take everyone’s words, even progressives and liberals, with a grain of salt. i won’t divide people into “good/bad” “evil/saint” “progressive/conservative” because in my experience, there is just too much overlap to cut so clean a slice.  that the most progressive progressive owns evil, the most conservative conservative owns saint.

    We don’t know what we know until we live it.

    ~~paraphrase of Robert Bly paraphrasing Kabir


    • kj on May 6, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    is flat, like a painting.

    i think it is up to the users to bring in depth and dimension.

    hyperlinks are tools to that end, our minds another.

    • kj on May 6, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    a short announcement from a semi-regular poster:  i’m going back to my early internet roots where there was no such thing as grade-school valentines, ie, the rec/pony system for comments.  i’ll read and comment and rec an essay, but comments stand on their own.  no more “hi” or “i read” or anything like that.  the system is silly and stupid.  🙂

Comments have been disabled.