Monday, November 26, 2007

Evil or a Poor Choice?

When did wrong become a poor choice? When did a choice cease being wrong? Where did right go?

I posted a couple of days ago about trying to explain Hitler and swastikas (and what they symbolize) to an 8 year old. I became involved in a conversation about the same topic and said that I had told lil man that the swastika was a bad sign.

The person I was talking to, let’s call them George, said there were no bad signs, just like there were no bad people. There were just people who had made poor choices.

I waited a couple of minutes so that I would not just erupt and then asked George if he did not think that Hitler was evil. He said no, that no one was evil, that Hitler had just made some poor choices, that evil did not exist.

I was dumbstruck.

I know that philosophically, I tend to oversimplify things. I always have.

In my world, where God reigns supreme, there is good.

Having said that, there is also evil.

Whether we choose to invite that evil into our lives is indeed our choice. I do think, though, that evil needs to be identified as evil. I think that characterizing Hitler, for example, as someone who made poor choices is minimizing the evil that the man wrought. It is also, conversely then, minimizing the good that is God.

I think Hitler, and his legacy, epitomize evil in 20th century history.

I hope that, at the end, he repented of his sins and, doubt not, they were sins.

Only God is huge enough to love and forgive such darkness.

I am not. I cannot understand such evil. I cannot imagine inviting such darkness into your soul and mind. I cannot conceive of not recognizing evil as evil.

Here is how Webster defines evil:
Main Entry: 1evil
Pronunciation: \'ē-vəl, British often & US also 'ē-(ˌ)vil\ Function: adjective Inflected Form(s): evil·er or evil·ler; evil·est or evil·lest Etymology: Middle English, from Old English yfel; akin to Old High German ubil evil Date: before 12th century
1 a: morally reprehensible :
sinful, wicked b: arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct 2 aarchaic : inferior b: causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive c: disagreeable 3 a: causing harm : pernicious b: marked by misfortune : unlucky
— evil adverb archaic
— evil·ly
\-(l)ē\ adverb
— evil·ness
\-nəs\ noun

Morally reprehensible; sinful; wicked

Yep, just sounds a little more serious than “poor choices”, doesn’t it? Is that what happened?

When we, as a society, became more concerned with a child’s self-esteem than with their moral fortitude, did we just ease away from all the words that made US uncomfortable?

Maybe it’s time for us to say, “What you did was wrong. That was bad. That is a sin.” instead of ,"You could have made a better choice.”

I don’t have the answers.

I just know that, as sure as I am that there is good, there is evil.
As sure as I am that there is God, there is Satan.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Irish politician Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797).


Overwhelmed! said...

Oh, I'm with you...Hitler was not just a man who made some poor choices. He was a truly evil man!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting!

Karmyn R said...

I believe in Evil and Hitler epitomized it.

At one time the Swastika actually symbolized something good - but the Nazi's twisted the symbol and made it a sign of evil. Regardless of the Swastika's prior thousand years of goodness - it was quickly tarnished.

There are no bad signs? Well - tell that to the guy as you are flipping him your middle finger and see if he feels the same way about that.

I say "George" is trying to be philosophical about something that is clear and dry to me.

Crown Princess said...


laurie said...

hitler made poor choices? that sounds like he's just kinda slow, or something.

of course there is evil. i think there's the capacity for evil in all of us, but very few people tap into it.

right now i'm reading erik larson's wonderful book about the chicago world's fair, "the devil in the white city." and let me tell you, the guy in this book was most certainly evil, too.

i do agree that symbols cannot be evil. the symbol that we know as the swastika is an ancient symbol that was co-opted by the nazis. you'll see it occasionally in pre-world war II architecture (there were swastika patterns in an old building i once lived in). i think the symbol originated in India, and it meant good health.

you could look it up...

but i'm with you on the question of evil.

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

Obviously, as we share similar beliefs, I can only think that Hitler, in committing suicide at the end, did not get forgiven, as his last act was a mortal sin. And, that one was preceeded by about 8 million + before that. If there was no evil and only poor choices, there would not be hate, murder, famine, war and so many other awful things confronting our world. If there were not evil, there would not be a need for exorcism, but there is. George seems to trivialize something much more profound than himself, which does a huge disservice to those people who are battling daily to do good. Another entry for the dictionary? Stalin, who murdered about 7 times as many as Hitler, although I don't know if when you speak in terms of millions if there is a "worse". I'm sorry for George. If you don't recognize evil, you certainly can't recognize good. And, they certainly aren't choices.

lisa's chaos said...

I agree that evil exists as much as we wish it didn't

Julie said...

Really good post - made me think.

My Husband Calls Me Weird said...

Interesting subject. I don't think we should do away with bad choices vs good choices, but there is definitely a line that has to be drawn somewhere. When does an action stop being a wrong choice and start being evil? A young kid taking a toy away from another child isn't sinful, it was the wrong choice to make and the that child needs to learn that what they did wasn't the right and how to make better choices in the future.

Hmmmm, your post made me think today. Good job.

Debs said...

I could not agree more with you.

Sounds like "George" is not a believer. There is a difference between Good and Evil, and Good and Poor choices. Marrying the wrong person a bad choice. Killing innocent people...EVIL. That is just a DUH to me.

My kids did not know much about Hitler and all the Evil he did. I had tell them the truth. They are old enough to understand. Now they see him as an Evil man, because they know it is more than "right" and "poor" choices.

The Devil is out there working on people. The Devil is EVIL George. ;) He did not just make a "Poor" choice.

Ok my rant is off. :D

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