Why is there evil? What is our responsibility in the face of evil?


Jordan Myska Allen:
First of all, what is evil? The definition depends on whom you’re talking to. To a suicide bomber, the fall of the Twin Towers is a symbolic end to imperialistic oppression done in the ultimate service of God. To the U.S. soldier in Iraq, bullets are the harbingers of justice and opportunity. Why does our society honor one while condemning the other? How do we justify torturing them in the name of a “good” that we arbitrarily define? To me, there is no inherent “evil.” Just as darkness is the absence of light, and has no quality of it’s own, evil only exists as a result of our beliefs about what is “good.” Still I wonder, what explains the Holocaust? [read more and respond!]


Ani Fox:
Go Google “cluster bomb”, “Chinese industrialization”, “Bureau of Indian Affairs”, “United Fruit”, “coal power” and “War Resisters League.” If you still feel like eating lunch you’re likely not a very nice person. The English speaking world has personally captured and obliterated the majority of the planet’s resources, resulting in untold and incalculable environmental devastation, multiple millions premature deaths due to infant mortality, starvation, radiation and toxic waste poisoning, repressive political regimes and widespread genocide of First Nations, West African civilizations, the Irish, sovereign Central and South American democracies, the Indian subcontinental peoples and Mainland Chinese. These are just the major ongoing genocides now being supported by the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. [read more and respond!]


Mary Ann Clark:
There is no good/evil dualism in Yoruba thinking. It was surprising to the first Europeans when they tried to proselytize the Yoruba people and couldn’t find an inherently evil figure, a devil, in the Yoruba pantheon. Instead what they found was Eshu who is sometimes called Eleggua. Eshu isn’t an inherently evil figure rather he’s a trickster. Sometimes he plays nasty tricks on people to test their character but while he punishes those who fail, he also rewards those who prove worthy. [read more and respond!]

Sarah Wulf:
There is evil in the world because we are instinctively bad. Our human nature always tends toward selfishness, greed, vanity, pride, and other characteristics with the goal of self-glorification and self-preservation. We naturally put ourselves first in our lives. Knowing that there is somethin g greater than this tendency, that there is goodness here, and that we must put others above ourselves (or, better put: having faith, hope, and love) does not come naturally. [read more and respond!]

Andrea Leyton-Mange:
The necessity of consciousness is the most interesting quality of evil – one that's distinctively human. Our tendencies towards evil are usually thought of as relics of our baser instincts, while doing good is thought of as a conscious choice. While I don't subscribe to the idea of instinct being separate from our conscious decision-making, there is definitely something more evil about harm done by a rational adult than by an animal, a child, or an adult in distress. Selfishness is an instinct, but evil is a decision. [read more and respond!]

Claire Villarreal
I think we harm others because it seems like the easie st way of getting to some imagined goal of happiness for ourselves, whether that means getting something I want at your expense or lashing out at you before you can harm me. The real tragedy of this way of thinking is that in the process of harming someone else, I invariably harm myself. I believe in the law of karma, cause and effect, and when I knowingly harm someone else, I’m planting the seeds for my own future suffering. Thus, not only do my own actions come back to haunt me sooner or later, but if I harm someone else and then they harm me, a vicious circle of tit-for-tat has begun, and horrific evil (terrorism, death squads, genocide, etc.) can grow out of large-scale retaliatory cycles. [read more and respond!]

Nick Hambley: [see painting and respond!]