exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
Evil comes to us bearing gifts; often, candy - can seem as harmless as a lamb; but always cloaking the monster-heart.
return to the previous page
If Evil is like a slow-moving fungus that takes over the world, why, the question must be asked, do we permit this suffocation by degrees?
We allow this because Evil, in its beginnings, does not appear to be Evil. It seems to be a short-cut to good things, to what we want.
Laura Miller: Desire acts as a honey trap to the unwary male, luring him into unworthy and catastrophic enterprises. The beauty of the Narnian witches isn't ancillary to their evil, but integral to it, one of the weapons in their arsenal. Evil must, after all, appear attractive if it's going to be tempting.
William Shakespeare: The devil is a gentleman.
Talmud: Evil is sweet in the beginning but bitter in the end.
Simone Weil: Evil, when we are in its power, is not felt as evil, but as a necessity, even a duty.
Paul Johnson, Modern Times: Hitler's artistic approach was absolutely central to his success. Lenin's religious-type fanaticism would never have worked in Germany. The Germans were the best-educated nation in the world. To conquer their minds was very difficult. Their hearts, their sensibilities, were easier targets ... In a rare moment of frankness, Lenin once said that only a country like Russia could have [been] captured so easily ... as he took it. Germany was a different proposition. It could not be raped. It had to be seduced.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness.
Mohandas Gandhi: I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
Scott Alexander: All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.
August Strindberg: Now I know the full power of evil. It makes ugliness seem beautiful and goodness seem ugly and weak.
Blaise Pascal: Evil is easy, and has infinite forms.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet: "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain!"
Henry David Thoreau: Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
Susana Wesley, mother of John Wesley: “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is [evil] to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”
Henry Ward Beecher: “The most hateful evil in the world is the evil that dresses itself in such a way that men cannot hate it. The men that make wickedness beautiful are the most utterly to be hated.”
Laurell K. Hamilton: “Why was so much evil pleasant, pretty on the outside, like poisoned candy?”
C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters: "The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint … but is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "There is nothing quite so terrible as evil masquerading as virtue."
Mohandas Gandhi, Non-Violence in Peace and War: Must I do all the evil I can before I learn to shun it? Is it not enough to know the evil to shun it? If not, we should be sincere enough to admit that we love evil too well to give it up.
Paul Johnson, A New Deuteronomy: When we are dealing with concepts like freedom and equality, it is essential to use words accurately and in good faith... beware of those who seek to win an argument at the expense of the language. For the fact that they do is proof positive that their argument is false, and proof presumptive that they know it is. A man who deliberately inflicts violence on the language will almost certainly inflict violence on human beings if he acquires the power. Those who treasure the meaning of words will treasure truth, and those who bend words to their purposes are very likely in pursuit of anti-social ones.
John, Revelation: "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth ...[which had the appearance of] a lamb [but] spoke as a dragon... and deceives them that dwell on the earth" (chapter 13, verses 11, 14).
Evil, to many, seems to be the quick and efficient way to get what we really want. Why bother with all the formalities? See it over there? It's juicy, sweet, tantalizing. Why wait? Let's just go directly for the good stuff. Let's just take the candy.
And if we can't just take it overtly and directly, let's deceive, obfuscate, smile and tell a joke or two, distract, make some hollow promises, manipulate - to get what we want.
Evil is widespread, pandemic, because it offers some immediate glittering benefits... seems to work, seems to satisfy... for awhile, for the briefest moment. There are, however, those nasty long-term side-effects.