Good & Evil

We all know terrorists are evil. We know they are full of hate. We know they commit acts of barbarism. And, most importantly, we know we are not like them. Their actions are senseless, we are sensible. Their ideology is primitive, we are civilized.
"Every historical change creates it's own mythology." - Bronislaw Malinowski, Myth in Primitive Psychology (1926)
Back in 1864 over 700 U.S. soldiers attacked an Indian camp and slaughtered nearly every man, woman and child in it. The soldiers scalped the women and children, many were mutilated, and the genitals of men and women were cut off and used as trophies.  In earlier wars with similar atrocities, Andrew Jackson instituted a policy where the noses of the vanquished were cut off to tally the dead. Jackson was promoted and lead the Seminole Wars to capture land and recapture runaway slaves. He became a national hero and his face is on our twenty-dollar bill today. The remaining Native Americans live on reservations.

There are many things that seem senseless to the sensible. But we are not always sensible. Sometimes we are senseless. Sometimes we are evil.
"Seldom does anyone admit that he is evil; seldom does he even admit that he does evil. One of the great dangers of humanity is our tendency to project our own evil onto others." - Jeffrey Burton Russell, Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity (1987)
It is said that even the Devil has convinced himself he is doing the right thing. The terrorists have convinced themselves they are doing the right thing. We have convinced ourselves we are doing the right thing.

Evil doesn't happen in a vacuum. In America our response is retaliation, retribution; wage wars (more than any other nation on earth) and incarcerate (more than any other nation on earth). We pick off the thorns while the roots grow deeper. We don't confront evil, we try to erase it. But evil is inside everyone - with enough provocation or indoctrination we are all capable of it - so the only way to erase it is to erase all life. By fighting evil we become evil.
"Evil is life turning against itself." - Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973)
So, how do you defeat evil? You don't. We beat the Nazis but their ideology never went away and is currently making a big resurgence. The KKK has never left us and is growing again today. Islamic terrorism will always be here too. So, what do you do? You look inward and find your inner-strength.
"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." - Jesus
America is the richest, most powerful nation on earth. We can lead by example. We can stop being afraid and start being strong, being better. Defeat evil by being good. Turn toward life. Instead of retribution and retaliation use rehabilitation and humanitarianism. Instead of violence use benevolence. There will still be evil but there will no longer be fertile ground for it to grow.
Step outside. It's a beautiful day.
Now, look inside. What do you see?

EDIT: I've corrected an error in the timeline of my history of the Sand Creek Massacre which was pointed out by a commenter. 


  1. Anonymous10:42 AM

    I believe that would be the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, 1814, not 1864. Excellent post, you couldn't pick a better "hero" than Old Hickory to use as example of evil and inhumanity.

    1. Thanks so much. I won't pretend to be an expert on the entirety of the wars with Native Americans but according to the references I have for the battle I mentioned it was The Battle of Sand Creek in 1864.

    2. Anonymous2:21 PM

      And my thanks to you. I was not familiar with The Battle of Sand Creek. Remarkable similiarities, Horseshoe Bend resulted in 800 Creeks slaughtered, broken treaties, relocations, etc., same MO by the US. Jackson died in 1845, but his legacy remains to this day
      I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

  2. Anonymous12:01 PM

    Well done. Thank you.

    Part of the phenomena you're discussing is also a central theme from A Course in Miracles. Projection makes perception. I project my own guilt onto you and so I become innocent. And "resist not evil" demonstrates the principle of what you resist persists. Personally, I would be perfectly happy to put Alfred E. Newman on the $20 bill.

    First time here, but Ah'll be baaaack.

  3. "Everyone is the hero of his own story."
    Kung Fu Panda - the commentary from (probably) the directors