Thursday, 23 May 2013
Something wicked this way comes
This week's Theme Thursday topic is definitely an interesting yet complicated one: Evil: Does it exist? What is it? How do you define it? Why does it happen?
The word evil is defined in the dictionary as something that is morally bad, wrong or wicked. Pretty broad, and open to much interpretation, as far as definitions go, and I'm sure if you asked 100 different people to explain what evil personally means to them, you'd have 100 different answers.
Personally, I believe in evil because I believe in dualism. Where light exists, so must the dark. Where there is life, there is death...where there is harmony, there is chaos...ying and yang, etc, etc. I believe in universal balance and I could get easily get sidetracked and start blathering on about reciprocation in nature and opposites and a bunch of other shit that sounds so New-Agey that I have to check myself, lest you all start thinking I'm gonna suggest we all sit holding hands in a healing circle and discuss our charkra alignments, before we move on to protection spells and joyful chanting to charge the circle with positive energy (I mock, yet I've done all these things. And yes, the chanting made me feel stupid and I'm pretty sure mine was way less joyful than it was supposed to be, due to the voice in my head saying "Are you seriously chanting with a bunch of people who smell like BO and patchouli, and that smile way too much for no apparent reason?? They could be nice, zen-ed out, blissful people...or they could be the fucking Manson Family. Run for your life before they start playing a Beatles record backwards, you dumbass").
Wow, that whole paragraph just went completely sideways and turned into one long, run-on sentence, didn't it? It is obvious I'm neither Shakespeare, nor Plato but then again I don't really want to be either, because they probably died of the plague or some form of explosive diarrhea that today could be cured with antibotics and Pepto Bismol...hooray for modern medicine!
Fuck, I did it again.
Anyfuckingways, back on topic...I think all humans have the potential to be evil, just like I think all humans have potential to be innately good. Look at all the evil acts and behaviour in history and you can see that evil is definitely a human trait. While I think that some people commit evil acts because it's in their psychological makeup and their brain wiring is all fucked up (like how there have been studies on diagnosed criminal psychopaths that show their brain reacts differently than a normal person's brain to violent stimuli), I also believe that everyone has the potential to behave in an evil manner, but their own moral code is what keeps it in check. However, given enough negative stressors, whether it's a physical or emotional pressure of an extreme nature I think we're all capable of evil behaviour.
Phillip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment is great example of how people can and will react under extreme conditions. The roles of the prison guards and the prisoners were chosen at random, yet by the time the experiment ended rather abruptly after 6 days, it was noted that at least a third of the participants in the role of prison guards were exhibiting genuine sadistic tendencies and most of the guards were upset when the experiment was terminated early. So were those participants closet-sadists to begin with, and they just happened to volunteer for this experiment, where they had no idea which role they'd be assigned to? Or did the experiment allow the evil part of those participants that may have lay dormant and undetected up until that point, to come to the surface when they had an opportunity to behave in a cruel manner with no repercussions? I believe the latter.
And what about the rest of us? I've seen a trailer for a movie who's premise is that for 24 hours of one day every year, people can do whatever they want, with no repercussions at all. They can rob, rape and kill...24 hours of absolute anarchy, where if someone has done you wrong, you have a free pass for revenge, anyway you see fit. I'm sure most people's first reaction when presented with that scenario would be "Holy shit, what a horrible fucking idea!". But ask yourself this, in brutal honesty...is there someone that has wronged you or someone you love, and if you had a chance to punish them in whatever way you deemed righteous, would you do it? Would that make you evil if you did? Because that's the problem with evil...we may have all thought about seeking some kind of revenge on someone who did us a horrible wrong, but is having to live with ourselves after crossing that line into evil is what prevents us from breaking our own moral code? Or are we maybe more afraid that if we did cross that line once, it would make it easier to cross again, until we moved the line to the point we could not recognize good from evil any longer?
I suppose my point is, when I think of evil, I don't think of some nasty dude who smells like sulphur and pokes people with a pitchfork. In my opinion, every human being has the capacity for evil, but our capacity for good plus our personal moral code keeps it in check