We talk a great deal about “evil”, but rarely about what it is or how we get there.
As mobs march through cities chanting for destruction in the name of a rotating list of causes, the question is one that is more important than ever
Most people are the heroes of their own stories, not the villains. Anyone who spends enough time around the criminal justice system or studying history knows that even the worst people are their own heroes.
How then do people turn evil?
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil,” Isaiah 5:20 warns. To become evil, we have to believe that evil is good… and that good is evil.
Good and evil can sound like abstractions, but they’re also behaviors. We strive for goodness by imitating virtue and we turn evil by hating virtue and imitating its opposite. Evil encourages us to despise heroism, loathe decency, and heap contempt onto any sort of principle, value, or conviction.
The message of evil is that goodness is both impotent and corrupting, while only rage fueling power is truly empowering.
That evil message is one that we now see everywhere.
A society in which everyone is a victim, and in which victimhood means perpetual rage, is an evil society.
That’s becoming our society.
“Empowerment” is the mantra of the age. It appears everywhere from corporate HR brochures to political campaigns. Strip away the dead letters and empowerment is just “power”. Identity politics is forever uncovering new victim groups and “empowering” them to seek power by raging at everyone else.
Identity politics strips away every principle and virtue leaving only rage and a desire for power.
With enough rage and power the world can be made into utopia. The right side of history is only a few more purges away.
The idea that a better world can emerge from rage is a classic example of people becoming evil by believing that evil is good.
To become evil it is first necessary to believe that the world is evil, and that every virtue, every alternative to rage, is actually evil because it aids and abets the evil of the world.
This is a succinct summary of everything from Marxism to critical race theory’s systemic racism.
Of course such ideas are not limited to the Left. All human beings are vulnerable to evil. Paradoxically, the more we see the world and people around us as evil, the more we are prone to becoming evil.
Paranoid schizophrenics see themselves as the only sane people in an insane and evil world.
Evil ideologies create unbridgeable gaps between their perpetrators and their victims. Only the absolute belief in an evil world makes the worst possible crimes against it possible.
In a world turned upside down, good and evil can seem nebulous at times. But an easy way to tell the difference, beyond the shadowlands of tribe, is that an evil ideology offers nothing but power, it forgives nothing, it aspires to nothing, and all it offers is contempt and the promise of total control over all.
And in the end it destroys the very things that the ideologues claimed to once believe in.
The Russian Communists claimed to love the working class only to subjugate it worse than ever. The Nazis claimed to love Germany and brought it down to its worst defeat. The common denominator there and for all evil ideologies is that they only truly loved power. And in pursuit of absolute power, they used the identity pretexts for power as kindling for a bonfire that eventually consumed everything.
How do so many people become evil?
Pain, frustration, humiliation, rage, and despair. Justified or unjustified, the emotions are real enough.
Brainwashing breaks down our value systems, reduces us to our raw physicality and emotions, subjects us to unendurable physical and emotional distress, to remake us into different people, into enemies of everything that we once believed.
It can be done and it is being done.
The old propaganda triumphs of the past century that deployed cutting edge art, film, and radio, and then eventually television in concentrated barrages has easily been overshadowed by the internet.
Most of us have come to exist in the social media matrix of a madness machine built to subject us to constant propaganda, to inflict ongoing distress in the name of helping us, and to transform our values.
The transformation can appear invisible to the victim.
How often do we look back to the child that we once were? How well can we measure the distance between the man and woman we were ten or twenty years ago? The process of external physical change is easier to measure than internal change. To be plugged into the madness machine of social media, cable news, and of the political mass propaganda we live under is to endure constant brainwashing.
The purpose of the brainwashing is clear and simple: it is meant to inspire a rage for power.
The rate at which America is changing has increased with the comprehensive scale of the ability to remake Americans.
The system has one purpose, to break us down, to make us hurt, until we entirely lose ourselves.
The various flavors of identity politics, of despair and rage, all lead to the inescapable conviction that the only way to stop the pain is to rage enough and seize enough power to match that rage.
And then to do terrible things with that power.
The madness machine that we turned on is making us an evil society. It is shaping us to despise all goodness and to embrace nothing but rage and power. All politics is being reduced to identity politics and all identities are being reduced to oppression and an accompanying rage. Rage is not anger. Anger can be a good, clean, and righteous thing, but rage is a despairing escape from the pain.
Brainwashing succeeds when pain brings us to a state of despair. Our only hope and defense against evil is a refusal to despair.
Cliched as that ancient truth may be, love is the true resistance to despair. Not blind love, but love of our families, of our communities, of our countries, and of our G-d.
Rage can win battles, but the heroism of lone men and women turning the tide on the battlefield or in a community comes from love.
Brainwashing can’t be resisted with rage. History shows that there are limits to human anger, but no limits to love of our country or of our G-d.
Love does not mean a refusal to fight. A man who will not fight for his country does not love it.
The profound difference between fighting out of love or out of rage is preservation over destruction.
It is also the difference between good and evil.
Good fights to protect, preserve, and create. Evil, when all the lies and justifications are stripped away from it, in the end only fights to destroy.
Evil doesn’t just destroy what it claims to aim it. It begins by destroying everything good about those it infects. It hollows them out to make empty vessels of destruction. It robs them of all conviction except the need to destroy. It leaves them feeling cold and empty except when they destroy. It reduces all their passions to its purpose until they have nothing without it.
To truly fight evil, we must love virtue. To fight for our country, we must love it as much as we may despair over its state. And we must never despair of the future no matter how bad things become for above all that we do is the higher purpose of a Creator who will have the final say on all things.
We must be angry over what we see. But that anger must come from love and faith. Only these can overcome pain and despair. The worse things get, the more we must cling to them otherwise we will fall.
As America enters a new stage in the battle against evil, we must fight it with the best of ourselves.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise
Rudyard Kipling, If