The Problem with Evil is that it’s just not very practical.

Most of my Quotidian Paradigm Shifts go by without comment from my friends, but once in a while one will pop up that many people will object to. Such was the case with this:

“Evil does not exist. Even the most evil of acts are committed by people attempting to do good. People are often misguided, but never evil.”

Part of the problem is trying to fit a paradigm shift into 140 characters, but the bigger issue is semantic.  One’s agreement with the above statement is very dependent on your definition of “evil”.  When I tweeted that PSQ, I was talking about people’s intents, but it was pointed out to me that there’s a use in calling a spade a spade…and even if a person is well intentioned, they can certainly commit evil in the world.

So, it calls for a Paradigm Reshift, which is also part of the experiment.

Evil is something to be eliminated.  I’m pretty firm on this one, regardless of how you define evil.  Evil should not be tolerated and must be eliminated whenever possible.

This is why it’s not practical to label a person as evil.  A person might be immoral and their actions might be inexcusable, but a person is never something to be eliminated.Thinking of a people as evil makes it easy to also think that the person needs to be eliminated.

Even those of you that disagree with the death penalty fall into the trap that evil people need to be eliminated.  Our penal system is based on removing people from society…eliminating them as a form of correcting society.  This temporary fix is obviously not working as our penal system has several systematic failures.  What would help is to eliminate the evil in society.

Here’s where the challenge lies…and the solution.  If the person is not evil, but evil is still a thing to be eliminated, then where is the evil?  How do we search it out and eliminate it?

People who commit evil acts are certainly a symptom of an underlying evil, and it is impractical to believe that the evil ends there.  People are guided by evil towards destruction and if you seek out the source of the evil you can stop it’s spread.  Thinking that the evil begins and ends with individual is naive and will help neither those afflicted with evil nor those suffering because of it.

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2 Responses to The Problem with Evil is that it’s just not very practical.

  1. tom says:

    i’m confused. and perhaps that’s the purpose of this experiment. i am not sure how you define evil. according to websters (and i, perhaps wrongly, and going with the noun form:
    1.morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.
    2.harmful; injurious: evil laws.
    3.characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous: to be fallen on evil days.
    4.due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation.
    5.marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.: He is known for his evil disposition.
    well, still an utterly worthless definition
    i am someone who believes “evil” doesn’t exist, but i struggle with a strong definition of evil. it’s a BAD word. period.
    i believe there are things that are wrong. i think people who don’t like things that i like, or like things i find distasteful, are wrong. i feel people who make poor choices are wrong. are they evil?
    no. as you said before, they are misguided. this is purely subjective though, so it doesn’t really matter.
    objectively, there are consequences for actions. those actions that yield less desirable outcomes are objectively wrong. so while i may consider an action evil because it harms others or myself personally or i personally find it reprehensible, if the ultimate outcome has no negative reprecussions, it must be right, and therefore not evil. i believe most people live by this whether they give it much thought or not. this is probably why people get so upset when you challenge their religious beliefs.
    reality seems to hold this in check. i think it’s ok to kill anyone who disagrees with me. unfortunately for me, more people disagree with me than agree with me, so when i start killing them off, there is a large backlash of people who disagree with me and people who agreed with my original idea that those who disagree with me should be killed are
    killed off much more quickly. this is where the rhetoric meets the road and hardline beliefs begin to adapt to reality.
    wow, funny enough, i realized, perhaps too late, i have no idea what i’m talking about. one fact that gives me comfort: regardless of how convinced they may act, everyone is in same boat as me, in concern to their knowledge of these matters. fun stuff, though not quite as much fun when people decide to actually start killing people because they are more convinced they are right than i am. some people take these conversations way too seriously.
    “GOD” save us all.

    • Jason Tyne says:

      Confusion is one way to put a goal of the experiment, but I like to think of it as “Question everything…even those things you feel most dear.” I had very strong feelings about good and evil, and once I questioned them I found that my opinions about evil weren’t very useful…neither were my new answers. I questioned them again…and again…this paradigm is after re-examining my beliefs four times, and I don’t think I’m done.

      That’s the point of the experiment.

      Never be done questioning what you know.

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