The Evil That Men Do….Politics vs Justice

Subtitle: facing the tragedy of the human condition.

Warning: This essay is depressing.

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All of us have evil inside of us.

The worst of all humanity lives in every human. Greed, unhealthy lust, violence, the willingness to hurt others to get what we want and to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.

All of human history is a parade of evil, and a parade of the fight against that evil. Prophets and Messiahs and wise men have written volumes on it. An entire segment of society, lawyers and judges, cops and prisons, preachers and….politicians, have evolved to cope with it. In fact virtually all of society, all of civilization, is a way for humankind to find ways to address and contain the evil within us.

In the most cynical, but perhaps the fairest reading, politics is always the process of choosing the lesser of two evils. Not just electorally, but when it comes to making decisions on governing as well. One mans evil is another mans Noble Cause.

After 10,000 years of civilization, you see, we still as a species cannot agree on what is Right and what is Wrong.

Killing people is wrong….except when it isn’t.

Stealing is wrong…..except when it isn’t.

Cruelty to others is wrong…except when it isn’t.

Just as we have evolved societies and civilizations to deal with the evil in all of us, there has been a parallel track in evolution of rationalization, justification and denial. We all agree that killing, stealing and cruelty, such as torture, is wrong. Every religion says so, and every set of laws says so. And yet we continue to kill, steal, and be cruel to each other, and continue to find new and exciting ways to rationalize, justify and deny that it is wrong…..when we ourselves do it.

One of the names for that evolutionary track of rationalization, justification and denial….is politics.

There are still people who deny that America, despite being “the greatest country/society on earth” and a beacon of justice in their eyes, tortured people, in fact tortured people to death. Those who don’t deny it, but are still unwilling to face the fact that America tortured people to death, rationalize and justify it.

This capacity is nearly unlimited, even in the best of us. So unlimited in fact that even as we as a nation struggle to somehow deny or justify the truly horrendous acts, acts that plumbed the darkest places of the imagining of evil inside of us to create the most effective evil possible, to invent or recreate the worst and most fearsome tortures of human history….even while we struggle with just how to deal with that…and so far fail…

The best of us are still able to, with the blood of the tortured dead still on our collective hands, and still wishing to deny or rationalize that blood, say things like this to the world…


In their hearts they still had faith that evil would not triumph in the end, that while history is unknowable it arches towards progress, and that the world would one day remember them. And it is now up to us, the living, in our work, wherever we are, to resist injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take, and ensure that those who were lost here did not go in vain. It is up to us to redeem that faith. It is up to us to bear witness; to ensure that the world continues to note what happened here; to remember all those who survived and all those who perished, and to remember them not just as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed just like us.

And just as we identify with the victims, it’s also important for us I think to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human, as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves.

…about one group of the victims of injustice in the past, the victims of the evil that men do, while simultaneously doing our collective best to deny and rationalize the injustices done….by us, by America, to another group of victims, the victims of our injustice.

It is, perhaps, the easiest thing that humans do, to condemn the injustice that others do, while denying our own injustices. It is like breathing to us to do so. It comes naturally. So I will not condemn the man who said those words, lest I too fall into the trap of the easiest thing men do, engage in hypocrisy.

The man who said those words has not tortured anyone, after all. He is merely tasked with dealing with the fact that America did indeed torture, that America did indeed create yet more victims of injustice. In a human history rife with far greater injustices, if one can measure these things, than America committed…in all of our names.

And the world being what it is, and mankind being who we are, he simply cannot deal with it as a plain and simple question of cut and dried injustice and horror and crime. As I am sure he would prefer to do. It is simply unrealistic for him to deal with it as a matter of justice, when politics is involved.

The humans who perpetrated this latest act of human brutality and injustice are still around, and many of them are still in power, or at least still wield it. They do not see THIS torture as evil. They will fight with all they have to defend it, and there comrades who ordered it and the humans who carried it out. EVERY evil that men do has its defenders. And this one is no exception

So even though by ANY rational, logical, religious or moral standard of the modern age of humanity, torture and torturing people to death is evil…is immoral and unjust…

This evil cannot be dealt with as an act of evil, as an act of injustice. It must be dealt with as …politics.

Perhaps we haven’t truly evolved at all.

27 comments

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  1.                            Photobucket

    • Edger on July 16, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    It doesn’t seem like it should be too far of a stretch to change that to choosing the best of two goods, does it?

    Why, I’ll bet that it might even be possible to be bi-f’ing-partisan agreement on THAT, no?

    ( ducks and runs for cover from flying objects )

    Have a couple of ponies! 😉


  2. that “The Golden Rule” applies when answering any/all of those questions. Given that, if the situation were the same, and you were the person in the other shoes, would you still consider those actions/words just?

    If you can’t place yourself in the other persons shoes and at least empathize their situation, then can you really call yourself “human”?  

  3. in terms of our evolution.

    “We” being us as a species this time.

    I wonder sometimes.

    Like a 14 year old boy, a manchild, with size 12 feet.

    Maybe we will grow into them.

    Our capacity for, and expansion of, empathy and compassion must keep pace with technological advances. We need more wisdom.

    Maybe its like that old saying “Youth is wasted on the young”. heh.

    Hope bigger. Yell louder. Change faster.

  4. Torture is just “one” of the many tools used to implement the “ultimate” rape of the soul – EMPIRE!

    EMPIRE in America is a three-headed MONSTER.

    Wall Street is the “starting” point of EMPIRE, the Holy Land, the Mecca, the place where the GOD of Power & Greed resides. MONEY is the fuel & goal of EMPIRE.

    Washington DC is the second head in the insanity that is EMPIRE. CORPORATE money flows into the halls of Congress, where our “public servants” are only too “eager” to SERVICE their CORPORATE JOHNS.

    Completing this TROIKA of death & destruction is the CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS of EMPIRE, where the orders go out, unleashing the dogs of war, inflicting endless pain & suffering from the Pentagon, which coincidentally, broke ground on September 11, 1941, 60 years to the day of 9/11. Is that Karma or what?

    Torture is the logical conclusion of an OBSCENE INSTITUTION that ROBS TRILLIONS, MAIMS & KILLS MILLIONS, SHREDS our SACRED CONSTITUTION, bequeathed to us my some of history’s wisest men, taking the first steps away from the rule of KINGS & TYRANTS, now only to be replace by soulless, greedy, democratic devouring CORPORATIONS.

    Lincoln stood up to the INSTITUTION of SLAVERY. SLAVERY, a  Hall of Fame Member in the INSTITUTIONAL HELL Pantheon. Lincoln with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, finally said, “ENOUGH!”, slavery was ended!  

    Today, President Obama, like Lincoln in his day, is standing on the precipice, looking into the three-headed eyes of another INSTITUTIONAL MONSTER, EMPIRE.

    Will Obama continue to “steady the tiller” of the USS EMPIRE or will Obama, like Lincoln, finally say, “ENOUGH!” to Wall Street, “ENOUGH!” to Washington, “ENOUGH!” to the Pentagon, “ENOUGH!” to EMPIRE???

    We will see.

    • Adam on July 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    After the Dubya White House, I came to an understanding that a philosophy of non-violence is unworkable in practical terms. Utopian. Too many instances of the most extreme elements in a country getting their hands on the levers of power and taking control.

    Extremists rise to take power way to often in human society. There’s something in our make-up that makes us prone to being dominated.

  5. Seriously, though, I think you’re right about a propensity within each human to do evil.  

    Obviously, if man were able to contain his evil behavior, there would be no need for laws.  Now, you have a real problem when you have the laws, but they are not observed!!!!

    Recall Anthony’s speech at the burial of Caesar:

    “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

    I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

    The evil that men do lives after them;

    The good is oft interred with their bones;


    So let it be with Caesar.”

    • TMC on July 16, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    but it needs to be told. Silence kills.

  6. Another petition to sign, same subject, asking Obama to hold a full investigation of the (theoretical)abuses of power.  This one’s from “Common Cause.”  One more time, gang.  

    Sign the petition here

    Set It Right

    Help us restore our nation’s true colors.  

    Send a letter to Obama today.

    Never give up.

    Keep on puttin’ on the pressure.  

    • Joy B. on July 17, 2009 at 12:00 am

    …humans are something grotesquely unnatural. At least in terms of nature’s Prime Directive and obvious balance. What kind of natural process would produce an animal with no natural limitations on its bloodlust or greed? What natural animal would create the means to end evolution altogether, just because it could, then deploy it in the name of its own bloodlust and greed?

    People don’t generally consider themselves evil. We’re able to self-justify anything, and I do mean anything. Including torture other humans horribly, unto death, just for fun. Whole societies eagerly do the bidding of their leaders and will hack their neighbors to death with machetes or force them by the millions into gas chambers. Men, women, children, infants… it takes surprisingly little.

    We have not appreciably “evolved” the the entire ~150K years we’ve inhabited this planet as a species. Our thirst for absolute power has ‘grown’ bigger (and more ruthless) civilizations, societies occasionally choose peaceful existence until they’re slaughtered by their less peaceful neighbors. It has always been thus.

    The truly bizarre thing (in a mentally schitzoid way) is that we have some innate conception of ridiculous fantasies like “Perfect Justice” or that there’s a real difference between something that’s “good” over something that’s “evil.” How silly. These are just ideas, thoughts. They have no physical form, no elemental nature, no objective existence. And, as the old Jewish saying goes, get two (humans) together and ask them to define the concepts, you’ll get at least three different opinions.

    It’s just a ghost in the machine. We are evolution’s dead end.

    But then… then I want so badly to believe not so, that someday we might really gain the knowledge of both good and evil our purported archetypal parents desired, and THEN we can evolve by making the next necessary free choice. In my lifetime, it’s just me who needs to learn, and nobody else gets a free pass on my coattails.

  7. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Or

    ‘What you do to the least of these you do to me.’

    I believe there is evil in all of us to some extend, most of us do not act on it.

    As I remember the last administration was guided by G*d who, by all accounts, is all love, but also scary and vengeful (wrath of G*d etc.,vengeance is mine..). Maybe this last administration was just as confused or confusing as the G*d they believe in.

    I believe in justice for all and I have the right to demand it when injustice is proven. Torture is evil and there has to be justice for the ones who endured it.

    If we can’t get this the only thing we can count is “Karma is a bitch.”

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