Understanding Our Concept of Evil

Why is it is so hard for us to believe that people are good in nature? Why is it our first impulse to try to differentiate ourselves from others ? Why do we try to put lines on the sand between good and bad black and white, right and wrong?

In western society, we believe essentially that human beings are messed up creatures indeed. If you went by the news, you would think that we are extremely violent , privy to hate , greedy and selfish.

We believe unconsciously that our true nature lies in this. Maybe not consciously, but if you look around us you see a huge emphasis on the essence of human nature is to be selfish and corrupt . We are taught to distrust our common neighbor, and to get ahead at all costs over others. We are forced to a set of standards that everyone must act upon.

It is said that one in five people are psychopaths… according to the psychopath test. But I am not surprised by this, considering that society perpetuates and encourages psychopathic behavior. It is in essence a consequence of focusing solely on just our selves. Even the current concept of spirituality is based purely on our own need to find ourselves over all other things.

In the book eat pray love, the main character spends an awful amount of time on her own quest for satisfaction. Ultimately this is the main problem. We make our own rules of good and evil based purely on our own selfish needs. Little to no time is placed on thinking about how our own needs effect others. The motto is ” Look after yourself first”.

We then go to the other extreme of religious fanaticism where total abnegation of self over others occurs. Where we self mutilate or punish ourselves and our obsessed with sin as opposed to trying to make the world a better place. It is our very obsession over darkness, over what is bad in us which paralyzes our ability to see the goodness.
If we focus on imperfections, how are we to see all our glorioius qualities and virtues? If we see the world as dark this only paralyzes us into significant change and action.

What if evil is simply the absence of life? What if Eve is a symbol of the spirit and we are not burdened by sin and darkness but by an ability to investigate and grow throughout life? What if everything in this world had a purpose, but by doing certain actions ( like say, murder) we are only opening ourselves to stifle growth and commitment to helping others grow?

I have found so many times that every time I feel the most defeated is when i am focusing too much on myself. When I have too much time on my hands to think. The moment I get up and do something for other people, the more I realize how much worth I have and how worthwhile others are.

The girls in my youth group were cutting down weeds in their school garden. They stretched all the way up and had been their for years. They happily were cutting and hacking things down , filled with joy to do this task. They knew it would take a long time, that the work was hard and it would take even longer to see true growth. But there was a degree of satisfaction in hacking down all those weeds which covered up the potential for this garden. They did it with an expertise that I never had, being more of a spoiled city girl. They taught me the power of truly being happy in serving others. And you can see the change not only in the garden but also in themselves and in their relationships with their peers.

The more we search for ourselves, the less likely we are to find ourselves; and the more we search for God, and to serve our fellow-men, the more profoundly will we become acquainted with ourselves, and the more inwardly assured. This is one of the great spiritual laws of life.
– Shoghi Effendi