Saturday, February 12, 2011

Man's Inhumanity to Man and Human Accountability

As we enter the 21st Century, perhaps, our most daunting challenge is apathy. So, what's the big deal? Well, in his book, Shaiton's Fire, Jake Thoene wrote, "Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really.... Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn't care as long as it's not personally inconvenienced," or in other words, as someone else once said, “Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand,”. In other words, apathy is to evil as cow shit is to mushrooms.

So, assuming evil is a very real phenomenon - and it is, despite those who claim it's a matter of opinion - we must realize that evil, not only remains a potentiality dwelling in the abysmal depths of each and every one of us; each and every one of us is a witting or unwitting participant, creator and/or perpetuater.

You see, in America, where freedom to pursue the pleasures of life, unencumbered by weighty issues is thought to be a god-given right, contributing to the evil that destroys so many people's lives is unavoidable. Barbara Bush sums it up best: "Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths...I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

What is evil? Well, we can't rely solely on external laws, rules, and regulations. In the wrong hands, laws can can become a tool of hatred and barbarity. Think Nazi Germany. Rather, we must evaluate from form the perspective of outside the political and legal framework...outside the status quo and custom.

"Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity"- George Bernard Shaw
In their 1971 anthology, Sanctions for Evil, social psychologists Nevitt Sanford and Craig Comstock defined evil as the following: "In using the word evil, we mean not that an act or pattern of life is necessarily a sin or a crime according to some law, but rather that it leads to damage or pain suffered by people, to social destructiveness of a degree so serious as to call for use of an ancient, heavily freighted term."

On a more subtle level, it's that tendency in oneself or others that hinders personal growth; intentionally destroys or curtails innate potential; limits freedoms; fragments or disintegrates the personality, and/or promotes extreme interpersonal aggression, cruelty, hostility, psychopathology and human misery.

Here's the thing. Outward goals often hide an insidious reality and underlying intention that can only be described as evil.  By feigning ignorance of the sometimes heinous transgressions of our government and the corporations we seemingly can't live without... or shrugging our shoulders and going on with life as if it's not happening, we provide the fertile ground needed for evil to spread.

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