The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Evil as Disease

I think I view evil people as diseased tissue, which needs to be cut away, with dispassion and a touch of regret. Here's the trick: had I not found that balance, my anger over cultural inequities and hypocrisy would have poisoned my life. And to a degree, I think that was what I was "supposed" to do--to lapse into hopelessness, or accept whatever scraps life gave me, or be "grateful" I was allowed to sit at the table. None of those were satisfactory. I could armor myself with flesh or dead emotions, numb myself with drugs or meaningless sex (well...), elevate myself with afrocentrism or insulate myself with belief in a blue-eyed Jesus.

None of these appealed to me. All felt like letting the evil in others' hearts infect my own. Poison my family and life. What was my option? I looked around at the people facing similar challenges who were living healthy, productive lives and seemed to belong to themselves. And what I saw in common was that they came from a place of love, and REFUSED to allow anyone to move them from that space. Fought for dear life to maintain it, with their eyes on a spiritual place that I couldn't understand. My own search for peace continued until I saw the same reality, and there I have remained. I've put dogs down, and loved them completely. It was just time for them to go, that was all. No pleasure. Great regret. Still did the job.

Violence is a thing, an action. It doesn't have to reflect a state of mind. It is, by far, EASIEST to commit a violent act when accompanied by anger or hatred. This is why militaries generate "us-them " energy toward "Japs, Nazis, Ragheads, Rebs" or whatever other name substitutes for "human being." Hard to hurt human beings, if you believe they have your own inwardness, that they love their children too.

Note all of the insistence that "Muslims" don't value human life as we do during the build-up and early days of the war? Turning them into "Sand Niggers" makes it easy to kill them. They don't value life, love their children, are completely incomprehensible in their pagan, horrific beliefs. Turning human beings into "them." Their God isn't ours, they are barbarians who love war more than peace, and on and on and on.

Trust me: anyone who will maintain this stuff has other racial/cultural attitudes toward other groups. I have NEVER seen an exception to this. In other words, there are people who think "us/them" and there are people who think "us." And each has its place, no doubt. But what is necessary to motivate groups to drop bombs on babies isn't mandatory for individual human beings. Those people are asleep and having a dream of separation. All right, fine. I'm into being awake, and that calls for a different set of mental muscles.

Can an awakened person fight for his country? OF COURSE. Christ on the proverbial crutch, the Bhagavad-Gita is all about the obligations of an honorable and enlightened individual to kill, to fight in a terrible war, even though he will be slaughtering his cousins. But looking at the length of the argument, it is clearly easier to just hate. Always has been. But hate and anger are really just fear. And fear poisons your heart. There is another path, and it is the one I have chosen.


Steve Perry said...

I like what you have to say, Barnes. I just don't see it for myself. If a stranger came into my house and murdered my wife, I could not see applying the term "love" to him. I am simply not that evolved.

I might not hate him -- though certainly my rage would be boundless -- but love?

No. I don't care if he was the sweetest little boy and his momma's darling, nor do I care about his reasons for doing what he does.

I'm not going to feel love. I also have a great deal of difficultly anybody short of being a saint could, either.

Scott said...

How do you feel if one of them is in the room? Real evil, I mean.

Never felt anything like it in any other circumstance; doesn't feel anything like fear or anger to me. Or, heh, love.

Shady_Grady said...

Everyone has to find their own path and what works for some may not work for others. But I think there are times and conditions when hate and anger are completely human responses to conditions or actions by others.

Trying not to express these emotions could , for some people, be psychologically devastating. Frantz Fanon, Malcolm and James Cone wrote extensively on this.

I might forgive a family member or friend who had done me some wrong. But love my enemies? Nope. Not me.

Steven Barnes said...

Steve: at the moment I shot him I would absolutely not feel love. I am not that balanced. But I would know I had regained my balance when I was able to feel it again. And would undoubtedly be overwhelmed with sadness that a potentially loving spirit had been so corrupted that I had to put his brains on the wall.

Steven Barnes said...

Of course it is completely human to feel such negative emotions. Even a survival value. I speak of a higher path I try with all my strength to walk, not anything that is a judgement about how others carry themselves. Fear and Anger are as natural as Love. Not as evolved, perhaps, but still intensely human.

Pagan Topologist said...

This 'evil is a disease' paradigm really reasonates with me. One can hate the virus but not the infectee. This is the first time I have ever grasped this concept, I think. Thanks, Steve!

David Bellamy

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