Reluctantly, I've written a number of times in this column about the problem of evil. I say reluctantly because, superstition aside, talking about evil tends to draw its attention.
And make no mistake, collective Darkness, to use a capitalized euphemism, has intentionality. That's what most people fear about it the most. I fear its pervasiveness.
We still lack an adequate philosophy of evil that gives the individual sufficient insight to stand against it without being triggered by it, and thereby getting sucked into the vortex of darkness and deadness.
So let's dispense with some New Age shibboleths. Evil exists. It isn't just the individual's projection of darkness from his or her own psyche.
Nor is evil some amorphous malaise, as many educated people like to believe. It has intentionality and a goal - the complete destruction of the human spirit.
However evil is not supernatural; it is man-made. There is no "cosmic battle between good and evil playing out for the soul of humanity."
Self-made evil, accumulated over countless generations of individuals suppressing and neglecting fear, hate, grudges and ugliness, is a collective death wish. It is working to drain the last pockets of trueness and goodness from within us as individuals, peoples and a potentially intelligent species in the universe.
Resignation in the individual is evil's main mark and means. In that it seems to be succeeding, especially in America and the West, but also in human consciousness per se.
However as long as there are a few who see evil for what it is and when it is, and don't fear it, and don't condemn and hate the weak, miserable, dead souls through whom it flows unimpeded, it can be vanquished. The devil knows this, even if we don't.
Having barely met one existential challenge after another by evil acting through self-ignorant conduits of collective darkness, I've grown tired of it. To be sure, I've grown rather weary as well. But the secret Darkness and the entertainment industry don't want you to know is this: Evil is boring.
Personally, I crossed an imperceptible threshold one beautiful day before the pandemic after riding the bike for a meditation beside the creek that a few years ago marked the edge of town.
Feeling a little sorry for myself for what I perceived to be a recent onslaught of destructive, subterranean behavior from neighbors and acquaintances, I recall thinking: 'Darkness is throwing everything at me but the kitchen sink.'
At that time, as I dropped down off the bike path onto a dirt path 200 meters from my meditation spot under a big sycamore, there wasn't a man-made structure within half a mile. So imagine my surprise as I got off the bike and saw a double kitchen sink at my sitting spot!
It's no use asking why someone hauled it down there, since there can be no rational explanation that would fit the circumstance. Some man - undoubtedly it was a man - dragged the big sink down for some inexplicable reason that had nothing to do with my metaphysical musing just before encountering it.
Whether Darkness was jerking me around, or Intelligence was showing me how stupid evil actually is, or both, I don't know, and it doesn't really matter. It happened. I laughed as I hauled it back up to the bike path (it was gone by next visit).
The perennial and seemingly perpetual childishness about the nature, origins and goals of evil is also why there are endless movies and television series that revolve around its operation in and through people.
The most popular TV series in America these days exemplifies how writers for the entertainment industry both exploit and struggle with the problem of evil. "Yellowstone" features a hardened, cynical character, John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner, who owns a huge ranch in Montana that could contain a small state, "such as Delaware, or the Netherlands."
Yellowstone Ranch is under threat by rapacious developers who plan to build an international airport, glitzy ski resort, and high-end condos and houses for the rich and infamous on Dutton land. Beth, Dutton's daughter, believes you have to use any and all means, and people, to fight evil with evil, while Dutton adheres to "rules against collateral damage to our friends."
The underlying message of many movies and cable shows these days is implicitly, or explicitly, as in the case with "Yellowstone," misanthropic. "The Earth," John Dutton says at one point in the season's last episode, "will shed us like dead skin."
But even if the fat lady sung on our age, or the human race, we can still turn the tables on evil by not being triggered when it attacks, and persisting in learning from the darkness within us. For the worst thing in life is to inwardly die before physically expiring.
After all, as the saying goes, "Ignorance is not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of self-knowing."
Link - "Every Day Is January 6 Now":
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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