Friday, July 15, 2011

Evil revisited

Is there such a thing as an evil person? I suspect this may be one of the biggest question we need an answer to, before we can see the world clearer. I was reminded of this question when I chatted with a Junior recently. This is a question I have wrestled with for most of my life. To say someone is evil is a big thing and I do not want to jump to false conclusions.

I have seen good people do bad things and "bad" people do good things. People who do bad things in the heat of the moment and regret later. People who do bad things because of pressure from poverty, or demands from a higher authority. So many many reasons. People are so complex. Which is why I always advocate supporting issues. Support when they are right and not support when they are wrong. If you support one person unthinkingly then right and wrong goes out the window.

But back to evil. Is there such a thing? I got a lot clearer on the issue when a friend got me a book from the UK 2 years ago. It's called "people of the lie" by M Scott Peck. He was a clinical psychiatrist and he studied this subject deeply. He also authored the book "The road less Travelled".

So what did he say? He postulated that there are a very few people who do evil for its own sake. There is no pressure from outside, poverty or otherwise. They are not in the throes of an emotional upheaval and doing something out of character. They do evil calculatingly. And he gave many clinical examples.

So 2 years back I got a little clearer on this question. Then I remembered that in law there is a distinction between premeditation and crimes of passion. So this question was asked by legal thinkers too.

I believe that we need to make this distinction in our lives too. It helps us see things clearer. With evil people, there is no amount of evidence you can present to change their minds. You cannot appeal to their sense of right and wrong. Their conscience is badly atrophied. Lies and distortions are their stock in trade. Dont run from this question. Seeing this clearly may save you one day.

No comments:

Post a Comment