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2006-03-14 An evil history lesson

"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can share, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." (Stephen Grellet).

 

So why is society still creating evil-doers? Why do some live selfish lives, overstepping the limit and aggressively pursuing the warped satisfaction of their own desires, with a total disregard for the lives of others? Ignorance is not the root of all evil : there are a lot of very clever evil people. When a theory was put around that the world was round, and not flat, it was the ignorant who punished those with knowledge. Why do we have murderers, rapists and child abusers? (Notice I do not use the word paedophile, as paedophile means a lover of children, and in my mind that is a mis-use of the word). Why does one sibling in a family turn out to be a bad egg?

 

Sin and evil are mental activities. Evil acts, whether physical or moral, can normally be traced back to a persons choice simply made in bad faith. Lance Morrow, in an article in Time, proclaimed that evil has a shallow deadly fungus quality  like an infection that takes up residence in individuals or cultures from time to time.

 

The Bibles New Testament preaches a wonderful ethic, but it has always disturbed me how many acts of human sacrifice, murder, rape, pillage, plundering and slavery in the Old Testament were committed in the name of God. Evil-doers have always been motivated by power, political convictions, sadism, insanity, lust, and at times, rather incongruously, by religious beliefs. Many of them involved teams of accomplices, sometimes almost entire nations.

 

In the 5th century, over half a million bloodthirsty men galloped behind Attila the Hun on his journey from Eastern Asia to Western Europe, raping or slaughtering anyone who got in the way, while pillaging and burning entire cities. When Attila died, his leaderless empire disbanded. The Dominican friar Torquemada (the Spanish Inquisitor) imprisoned, tortured and killed thousands in the name of God, and eradicated Judaism from Spain. Vlad the Impalers name says it all  he killed 100,000 people, employing horrendous methods. Pizarro destroyed the Incas and stole their treasures, the insane Ivan the Terrible exterminated thousands including his own son, Uncle Joe Stalin murdered millions of his own as he built Russia into a Super-Power, Mao Tse Tung is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of his own and still his picture hangs in homes and businesses throughout China, Idi Amin appeared at the time like a cartoon character and yet as the Butcher of East Africa is responsible for 300,000 deaths and was a practicing cannibal, and of course Hitler left behind a trail of unparalleled destruction and mass murder. For me, the worst of the lot was Cambodias Pol Pot, who tortured, starved and murdered two million fellow Cambodians, a third of the countrys population. His uneducated and virtually insane teenage army  the Khmer Rouge  carried out indiscriminate killings. Every aspect of peoples lives in Cambodia was controlled by Pol Pot.

 

Within the last ten years, we have watched as the evil doings of men such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden unfold before our very eyes. In the 20th century, we came up with such terms as psychopath and morally insane, and yet, we dont learn from history. The West seemed to ignore the genocides in Rwanda and Kosovo, as one section of a country deliberately destroyed the social identitiy of another. Can we not stop the eradication of the black Sudanese of Darfur now? Will we find out in a few years the true extent of Robert Mugabes actions, and will it just become another chapter of injustice and cruelty in our history books? Human goodness normally prevails, but only after a long trail of cold-hearted brutality. The globalistaion of instruments of destruction means that the delivery systems of evil have been speeded up. We need to begin to really instill in our young a genuine desire to respect others, and emphasise the value of being respected. And remember, all it takes for evil to spread is for enough good people to do nothing.