Reflecting on the nature of evil

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some people in this world who are evil.

Evil, in the old fashioned sense of having bad in them. Bad which remains and sustains and causes hurt and misery to others.

Irrespective of the charitable view that everybody has to have at least some good in them, there are a small number of people who simply don’t.

Unpleasantness in people can take many forms, which we all know only too well: bullying, harassment, persecution, selfishness, manipulation, greed.

There seems, though, a distinction between unpleasantness and evil. This is, of course, highly subjective.

For me, the distinction is whether the unpleasantness is sustained and systematic, or whether it comes and goes.

People who are under pressure will, of course, exhibit undesirable behaviour. So will those who are ignorant, and sometimes those who are poorly educated.

For most of these, their lives and pressures wax and wane, their bad sides come and go, but by and large they are fairly inoffensive.

A small number, though, show their badness over and over, unremitting, unrelenting. These, then, are the evil ones.

A number of examples spring to mind:

- Andrew R, who took at set against me at high school. Honestly, truly, I never provoked him. He simply decided I was the geeky kid who could be beaten up, spat upon, kicked and jeered at. He was a thoroughly unpleasant young man. I saw him again, years later in a shopping centre and he verbally attacked me, unprovoked! Conclusion: The guy was evil.

- My former neighbour (yes, liddle bro, I know you are sick of hearing about him – but think for a moment of some of your own neighbours). This man was selfish, stupid, and inflicted himself on everybody around. Asking him to stop on numerous occasions only made him worse. His behaviour could not be explained by ignorance – because he knew exactly what he was doing. Another one who was evil. (Though 18 months later I harbour a small secret schadenfreude about him. More on that another day).

- Some former managers of various members of the family. Some were control freaks, some were incompetent, some were hypocrites, some made stupid rules for others and behaved differently themselves. Sometimes these people were just ignorant or stupid, but there are one or two who were just downright evil. Can’t be more specific – some of the people concerned might read this or hear about it and get all funny about confidentiality agreements.

- A few of the religious zealots I’ve come across over the years. Those with beliefs are just fine by me – provided they live by what they expect of others. (And this applies to religion and politics! Just think of the preachers and politicians who go on about family values but can’t keep their dick in their own trousers!)
A couple of years ago, during difficult circumstances with an employer and some other things going on, SWMBO and I were given some good and simple advice: “Stay away from the evil ones”: You can’t fight them and win, the only way to preserve your sanity is to get away.

I began thinking about this again today after being shown some old letters of my grandfather’s. It finally explains part of the great family split, and why there is a side of the family that I’ve never met. Of course, what I have seen is one side of a story and passing judgement now on events of 30 to 60 years ago is difficult. But it certainly seems that one member of the family, a long way back, could best be described as evil.

Where do these rambling thoughts lead?

Simple, really:

- Try to be understanding of others, and fair in all you do. That alone will set you apart from the madding crowd.

- Stay away from the evil ones!

(A scheduled-in-advance post brought to you through the wonders of time-travel and technology)


Good advice.. there’s a member of my family (not blood related) who is actively maneouvering in the most underhanded ways to create a split between siblings and generations… I’ve no doubt in my mind they would fall under your “evil” category.

Comment by Daniel | February 15th, 2007 9:13 am | Permalink

I’m pretty sure that there are people who don’t have any empathy for others. They are completely unconstrained by what their actions will do to other people because they just don’t care. This sort would just as easily kill you as look at you if they could get away with it. Oddly enough, these “win and any costs” folks often rise to the top of the heap in the corporate world because they “get results”. Best thing you can do is run the other way.

Comment by Jack | February 15th, 2007 10:37 am | Permalink

I used to teach, and there are some in the education system who believe that there are no bad kids. I am here to tell you that some are the spawn of the devil! I think that this “me, me, me” generation that we’ve managed to create will only serve to make things worse, not better.

Comment by Diane | February 26th, 2007 7:20 pm | Permalink

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