Good and Evil Are Merely Sparse Fires In A Vast And Untamable Wilderness.
She puzzles through vengeance on difficult days;
Laughs through her tears...
that impossible maze;
To call something evil requires some good...
A primitive flicker to lick at the wood.
The goodness in her had long gone; turned to dust.
Remaining a mortal required some lust.
She'd killed good herself; eyes remorseless but wide,
When she'd mentally doused out her shame and her pride-
That mistake of existence watched evil take off;
Fodder well stuffed, kindling properly placed...
Fear and mistrust feeding malice, she'd taste
of the blood of the devil;
She'd gnaw on it's bone;
That fiery evil; Now something to hone.
For good she'll be bad; she'll be lousy and sin.
She'll decry all vain mourning and wither within.
Yet the fire; what beauty. What vigor and verve..
The power to see; to care, nourish, preserve...
Destructive and deadly and painful to touch.
The warmth of a hearth is still asking too much...
So she plays in the shadows, lets ashes turn white; Cool damp of the darkness so soothing and right.
But she's still full of coal; that which once was alive...
condensed into urging the newlings to thrive.
She'll burn herself up if you like.
She knows how.
Small matter of breaking that childhood vow which she made to herself though she knew she'd not keep.
For the thing liked to watch. (Liked to witness and weep)
That old sapling she was before evil came near...
...How she loves it - when life whispers truth few can hear.
Born, Made, or Happenstance?
The answer has always eluded me, are people evil or are people made to be evil? Ever since I was young I could never truly grasp onto what the answer was.
In movies the villains were usually senselessly evil, being evil for the sake of being evil. But then in the world around me it was apparent that people were made evil by the people and environment around them.
As I’ve grown older I’ve looked deeper into the world around me and now I’ve become confused once again. People who are raised by alcoholics or abusers tend to become wary of alcohol and more loving and protective of their own children (though there are still the unfortunate times when the child becomes the parent). So does a negative environment make a person evil? Or just more prone to evil?
If that’s the case then is everyone born inherently good? And does that goodness come in different ‘levels’ of strength that allow it to last through negative environments? But… if everyone is born inherently good, then there must also be those who are born inherently evil?
I’ve gone and confused myself again. Perhaps everyone is born inherently good and evil, and the environment they are put into slowly wears down either part. One day some of them will give into the whispers of their evil while others will hardly pay attention to it?
So perhaps, people are not just born evil, or made evil, they are born with the possibility to be either and it’s all just happenstance.
- the ramblings of someone who would like to be a philosopher.
Confession of a Being
I am evil.
And good is learned through restraining our own.
When I was a child, I didn't know my actions could count as bad.
Until my conscience was built towards good. Until I was acquainted towards the difference of good and evil.
We have a values education subject during elementary, and I learned to be a hypocrite just to have a high score during a quiz and exam.
If morality didn't exist, then we wouldn't be able to categorize ourselves in good and evil.
If there wasn't "evil" to begin with, then we wouldn't be able to acknowledge the "good".
We build ourselves through restraint.
We learn to hide our dark deep desires just to be viewed as a person with moral, with respect in regards to others.
We just learn that being evil can be a hindrance to others.
Maybe that's why such law exist just to have a well functioning society.
In a lawless world, evil is predominant in such place.
Sometimes I couldn't help but agree with de Sade, "In order to know virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with vice."
But at the end of the day,
It was our choice to be either good or evil.
It was our own choice to be evil today and be a good person tomorrow.
However my confession is still the same.
I am evil.
I just learned to hide beneath my veil.
Humans are not humans without the existence of both good and evil.
Money is just paper...
Evil, with regard to morality, as opposed to some supernatural being with a pitchfork and a fiery abode, is a social construct. (Both versions are manmade.) It is by group consensus that evil exists; it is not an intrinsic quality of perceived reality.
That which is considered evil varies century to century, generation to generation, country to country, culture to culture, religion to religion, town to city, war versus peace time...to name a few variations on what proponents of any particular view like to consider absolute, inviolable givens.
Evil does not exist without humanity to infuse it with meaning. It does not exist in nature.
Neither does "goodness."
Both exist as a result of humanity's attempt to maintain order so that people might coexist in relative peace in (large) settled populations.
When consensus erodes, when personal welfare or survival trumps the well-being of the group, all social contracts and constructs weaken and decay.
Entropy then chaos ensue.
On the Pleasures of Evil
‘Is it pride? Is it envy? Is it the force of contrast? Is it weakness or malice? But so it is, that there is a secret affinity, a hankering after evil in the human mind, and that it takes a perverse, but a fortunate delight in mischief, since it is a never-failing source of satisfaction. Pure good soon grows insipid, wants variety and spirit. Pain is a bittersweet, wants variety and spirit. Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal.’
I am not, I trust, mistaken in the recognition of an urgency among my fellow contestants to fasten upon a flattery of their better natures, particularly as those being quite put past evil. As such, I fear there is a strain of self-sentiment run through this challenge, about the kind determined to stamp out any trace of crudity within itself, resigned to its own favourable regard, in the most righteous judgment, blameless, and in the effervescence of every hidden motivation, purer than Bethesda; a type of estimation that forgets the human as animal, and which after the high flight of romance, sinks susceptible to the reflective charms of a certain mythological pool of water.
Gone about it a different way, there is a spectacular readiness to set on foot the image of our immaculate conception, to be believed that without any perverse intervention, here called ‘learning’, we should never have come to know evil at all. Humankind, this conception would seem to say, is an organism innocent of all desire for wrongdoing, uncommunicative to the thrills of another’s harm, truly a creature incapable of wickedness as sport, that from its recreation issues only the sake of good, and in whose person never gets published those carnal attractions to hatred. Its only flaw, if it is still possible to imagine one under this construction, is the occasional weakness to unsolicited and entirely inadvertent corruption. Evil, the unintended coincidence of pure good.
It is in the fulth of such optimism where we find a rather primal grandeur, the one armed with too large an opinion of itself, and which tries for every case to rescue the reputation of the human being from its self-directed judgments. If humans are not born with all matter of evil already set upon them, it is only by refusing to cast the mesh of Fault high enough to let its webs so promptly fall upon us.
Much talk has already been given to the basis of ‘evil’, and rightfully so, it is a troublesome word. It makes us resentful at having to play at being philosophers in order to pin it down; not least because we live in a world where it needs circulation to begin with. So, a great deal of mental effort has been placed before me, managing perhaps only informally, if not in the end ironically, to tell us with many a breath saved what still remains the extent of all the pontificating and squabbling of Philosophy, that nothing can truly be known.
Well, at least not in the absolute manner in which these things tend to be treated.
Evil is a concept immaterial, changing its form at each new vantage, without an orderly connection to quantity or metric, something that for its many occurrences, never truly keeps to specifics, nor in the general, organizes into a decided resemblance -- but just like a ghost in the attic, there’s no denying when its there, to say nothing of the fright it can produce.
The apparition of evil being so laid, it is easy then to study not what it is, but how it is. Under this reading of the terms, it does not take a scholar to see that the countenance of evil is rather anthropogenic. It looks human; it moves and acts like something produced by one; the perfect echo of what would sound if from a primate’s mortal groans. Satisfying the limits and peculiarities of more primitive wounds, in character no less that exact rendering after its own bipedal design, as though by all genetic likeness, fulfills the bizarre quirks of a psyche so easily moved to anger. Could it ever be believed that the experiment of humanity, playing out upon a barely-conscious species, so recent of language and writing, with sufficient awareness to wonder at itself, but not enough to save it from fear and trembling—in every way a crudest specimen, hardly fit to bear its loneliness, yet ever hardened to danger and threat, that in all the confusion and madness of this sentience, we should not expect the seed of evil to be grown up in it?
Over the course of a long, mostly unsuccessful history, the sweep of evil has been slowly confined to narrower bands, where it is now such an extreme word that we’ve taken to recognizing it only in the same degree. Mass enslavement, genocide, war – those subjects which seem half-fantastical when contrasted with the passages of middle-class, suburban life. And these extremes are so infrequently registered on public life where it can be forgotten at will that evil, in those tiny capacities which it thrives best, still exists within all of us as unobservable forms – forms no less capable, if given a proper fanning and the right vent, of enflaming our passion into the most supreme example of wickedness.
Let us shine a light on these wicked shadows that lurk, to offer some needed rendering of just how evil hides in the unlikeliest places. The easiest instance of everyday evil, precisely because it is so unsuspecting, and because it can be so universally found, is the human’s morbid fascination with murder.
Here is a familiar scene: the black husk of a spider, hobbling along the floor, heedless, perfectly peaceful, running to attend whichever order of business he has in some small crevice. Do we not, children and adults alike, frangible nurses or severe moralists, start up in disgust and impudence to seize upon that grotesque, six-legged abomination? Are we not compelled by that innate spring of violence in the uncountable number of dead flies, ants, worms that infect gardens, rabbits that chew at saplings? And as we grow, and the pleasures of those insecticides begin to dim, do we not then look elsewhere to satisfy these biological urges which come all-too regularly to us?
What we find as a natural replacement, is the delighting in the misery of our fellow creatures. There is no end to the joys we get from the reports of local crime and felony, or more generally, of accident that befalls our nearest citizens. How can it be, that unprompted by an expansive freedom to choose differently, we watch so closely these events with an eye for gore and taste for finality? Is there not something familiar then in what we see? We feel if only faintly, an ancestral connection to the incident of evil, if we aren’t altogether ancient relatives of the very picture. It stirs in us some close response, we keep our ears to the ground for its appearance, we want to know it further, and wish, not often by action or deliberate design, but always by some handsome curiosity, to discover it again.
Certainly, this local scale of evil revolts our most outward feeling, and as a conscious thought is so disturbing as to barely be imagined; and yet, once we’ve parted with the sober acknowledgement of it, mourning its bitter occurrence, there comes all the same a breath of private enjoyment. How else can the utter misfortune of a neighbour seem as a happy stroke of luck done onto us? It must be because the small streak in our fortunes is ever so faintly brightened by a dark border, and our happiness rises in us by the precise shade of that contrast. Here is why, despite a life-long grief, at times completely unbearable, at others just passable, does the dying of a loved one in no small way also ‘give us that sense of our own lingering’.
And let’s not forget just how much we thrill to humiliate people, participating in their scorn is as though the veritable lifeblood of conversation. The impetus of jealousy and public gossip reminds us rather quickly of our inward treatment of others, and that while we commend ourselves on positive displays given to those who rise in the world, we far prefer to see them fall. A beautiful face or favourable regard, a smarter choice and better outcome, any tiny success that is not one’s own, these are like the wellsprings of our peevish ridicule which rush open at the slightest tapping. Our contempt for the human race is always fresh upon us, impatient as we are of the differences between men, of their stupidity or attainment, to be made to live with them is like a bitter draft swallowed to our own injustice. Does it then according to our wont, fill us with an unconscious comfort to witness these people come to ruin, humiliated and exposed for all to see, like pissants pilloried in the hot sun of the public square.
What is most owing to a discussion on evil, however, is the endless pleasure of our favorite kind: hatred. How wantonly do we erect false images of vague enemies that seek to oppose us, but for whom we wish to harm the more. We adore these stuffed effigies that we populate throughout the world, as aspirations for our violent retribution they inspire us more than virtue ever could. On them can we lust after revenge and bring the loveliest visions of a most imaginative cruelty. In fact, we are oddly never short on these fictions, wherein we continuously invent new punishments for our rivals and are free to carry out our depraved sense of justice; better than a stiff tonic to calm the nerve, or an aphrodisiac to incite the tumescent bulge.
‘The rich and famous’, ‘capitalists’, ‘serial killers’, ‘rapists’, think about how unwittingly we limn our versions of ill-will into their fates, believing as we do, like an inborn second nature, that they deserve whatever brand of suffering we can conjure up for them, that indeed we are glad when it arrives after them – and failing that, we pray ardently like the pious bead-counters we are, for their rather warm reception in hell. It is only by the heavy hand of custom that we do not revive the vestiges of once commonplace evils; but there is no mistake that found in every scream and slander, in the cries for punishment and the riots which break our shop windows and parliament doors, there lives in each of these the same germ that assembled men into crowds around the scaffold.
I would now like to give some due consideration to the second half of this challenge, which yet has slipped more or less undetected past the careful nets of my fellow contestants. Much fuss has already been made over the idea of ‘evil’, which is all well and right, but what about that second, more obscure word, ‘learning’?
As well as I can make it out, no effort has been made into elucidating the term, whose dedicated arguments seem so eagerly to have been hung upon, and rather taken at granted as that known to children of what transpires in a classroom. I fear then, the tambourine is very much in the wrong hands.
When expanding the frame on what we mean by learning, here too do we find an irresolute image: we know it must have some type of stimulus, we agree that something already known cannot be learned, and that generally it brings about the transfer of knowledge; but in the particulars it is still a vagary of definition.
One thing that can be confidently done to better place the word, to cast it in more friendly terms, is to put upon it the necessity of a teacher. It is proper to think that in order to learn anything, something or someone must be there to teach it to us.
So, the human subject, in the main grammar of the arguments already laid out, has Society for its object as that which teaches it. And in no explicit terms has this phantom figure of ‘Society’ been exorcised into the reasoning as that Gerasene pig to cast away all the demons of evil that otherwise demand explanation.
Catch-all phrases and indefinite language are like empty vessels to stuff into whatever unexplainable phenomenon is most convenient, usually those lacking excuse and failing all manner of easy answer. I suspect that ‘Society’ may be some such vessel, to hide out of site what we fear most, to cache away the mammalian genealogy of evil. What then is Society? Is it not that mass collection of men and women who inhabit it? Society is not some autologous force, it has no will of its own, and does not exist apart from the human beings which comprise it. What then does it teach us that we have not yet imposed on it? In society, in human society, demonstrations of evil or good originate from us, emanate throughout by institutions we have built, and instruct or unlearn our beliefs according to the facility of our own minds. There is no ghost of society that like the Leviathan sovereign, controls our thinking, that leads us unawares by the carrot or the stick, who absolves us our scrutiny over congenital flaws. What more must we ask of our hardest thinking to tell us which is most likely, that we who make up society are shaped after its supposed independent faculty, or that the very cut of society is actually fashioned after the collective wills of us who stir it?
The condition for evil is readied in the Homo Sapien of a commodious tendency for survival, like the pleasures of laziness or sex, it recurs in our disposition without any real need for instruction. This is an intuition that cannot be taught, to be affected so deeply with the froth of resentment that it overtakes us in moments often scarcely accountable to us. We are twinned to evil, as we are to good, and taking here some right and there some wrong together in the hidden compositions of our behavior, are we unable to look close enough into that realm of motivation. If pure good is the perfection of the human into ideals which he is equally born with, then evil is the aching within his chest of mortality so pitifully forced upon it.
An Irrefutable Stance If..
Are people born evil? This question can only be answered in one way if one is a believer of Jesus Christ. If one does not believe in Jesus Christ, then the question can quickly become, 'does evil even exist?'
God explains that man was never meant to know evil. This is apparent in Genesis chapter 3 verse 22 - And the Lord God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.'
He continues in chapter 8 verse 21 - The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood..."
These verses tell the reader: Man was never meant to know the difference of good and evil. But, of our own free-will we chose to be aware. The repercussions of this became a burden for our children who are now born with evil in their hearts.
Is evil learned? No.
Can evil be battled with good? Good is the only way to battle evil. The only way to prevail is to continuously choose good. Just as there is only one way to receive salvation; through the belief that Jesus Christ has already atoned for our evil sins.
Hitler. Stalin. Hussein. Manson. Bundy. Dahmer. My God, what a list of monsters that sadly goes on and on and we are adding names to it daily with those walking among us with sick, evil, twisted ideations that they act upon. All had an unusual or difficult childhood...red flags going off. Things that were ignored. Were they born evil or did they learn it? That answer is above my paygrade but...I can give my opinion.
They all did horrible acts without blinking and seemed to relish at the hurt, destruction and bodies that they left behind. Families destroyed over their cruel sadistic ideas that were carried out without conscience. They repeated their offenses over and over again. No remorse. No intention of stopping.
I do believe that some souls come into this world and no matter what kind of environment they were born into we would have seen the same results. There are dark hearts and dark minds void of human compassion and emotions. Something is missing. What we recoil the thought of - they embrace. There is a dark side - a dark force.
The matter of people being born good or evil has been debated for centuries and will continue to be...no earthly being knows the true heart or mind of another....Evil does walk among us. It always has been there. It lurks in places we don't expect it....the darkness does not think or feel guilt, shame or remorse and is waiting to strike as others are living their lives.
Evil, a Glass as Clear as Mud
Evil is too diverse to say that it is something that a person is born with. There are too many parts. It is a learned thing, and for some it is all to easy to learn.
Here are some prime examples of evil that is learned.
An evil queen who wants to kill a kid for reasons only known to her? That is learned evil, an evil she may have even learned from her mirror on the wall.
A Ruler who wants to take over everyone, and force them to obey his many rules, a learned evil, maybe from school, or media, or their parents.
A little girl takes down every other little girl in order to bring herself up, is a learned evil, maybe learned from her parents or sibling.
No matter how big or small the evil it is learned. It is not a thing that a person is born with. And who knows maybe not all those people are evil, maybe it is the heroine.
Maybe in reality the queen was protecting another, and the girl who she killed was a monster.
Maybe the ruler was doing what was best for his people, and if he didn't do what he did they would be enslaved to another, much crueler person.
Maybe the little girl is bringing everyone else down, because they are stuck on a tall cliff and she can climb and take them to the bottom.
Evil is learned, and maybe, just maybe, there is no evil at all.
Aside from rare cases where someone's brain is born structurally different (like psychopaths) and it affects their moral choices, "evil" is learned.
According to Crime Traveler (https://www.crimetraveller.org/2015/07/serial-killers-childhood-abuse/), of a certain serial killer study group, 68% reported at least one kind of childhood abuse, compared to the 12.5% of children that are abused in total (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/06/02/318227196/odds-of-abuse-and-mistreatment-add-up-over-childrens-lives). This implies that most serial killers' actions were affected by childhood abuse, which means their environment impacted them. (Of course, environment is no excuse, and most abuse survivors don't commit terrible crimes.)
I recently watched a TEDx Talks video about someone who almost became a school shooter. He said that his family was very aggressive and his parents were drug addicts who abused him. He had to move frequently, was always the new kid, and was always subject to bullies. He got kicked out of his house and was homeless for years. Eventually, he bought a gun and planned to shoot either a school or a mall, because he had nothing left to lose. However, his best friend—whom he had lied to and stolen from—still treated him like a person, and he decided against using his gun because of that one friend who treated him like a friend. He now is happily married and has four kids. If this doesn't show that someone from even the most "evil" parents about to do the most evil things can learn, I don't know what does.
In the vast majority of cases, evil is learned (meaning there's no excuse, but also meaning most people can change).
an act of learning
when i was
a young boy
took me into the city
to see a marching band
you grow up
will you be
the savior of the broken,
the beaten and the damned"
well one of the trumpet players
stepped on my foot
and i decided to give up on my
dreams of music
and instead pursue a career
the petty wrong
taught me a lesson
that in the most tender of moments
there is the potential for learning
the depths of evil
in the events of the smallest insignificance.