Evil became a fashionable word in the West after 9/11. Until then it was regarded as an old fashioned religious way of simplifying reasons behind events we disapproved of, instead of intellectually explain why and how they could happen.
Oversimplifying and implying that you are either “with or against God” led to statements like “you are either with us or against us”, remember? It also enabled calling countries the Axis of Evil and the erroneous belief that Iraqis would cheer their “liberators”.
Evil absolves us from blame
Calling something evil is easy because then there is no need to look at why it happened. It’s conveniently blamed on evil people which saves us from trying to understand why and how it could happen.
It allows us to do nothing because we are, after all, only human beings. Only God can do something about evil.
Truly wish that all evil was carried out by a few evil people and once they were behind bars everything would be hunky dory. But it isn’t as simple as that.
What makes people evil?
The important question we have to ask ourselves is what is evil and what makes people commit evil actions. To understand the motives behind is essential.With very few exceptions, people are not monsters. It’s normal people, just like you and me, who can suddenly become dangerous. Everybody can in theory behave like monsters. Evil can happen anywhere at any time.
“But he seemed so normal”
Despite that, people are surprised every time they are confronted by evil. “How could this happen in our little town?” “But he seemed so normal”. Touching in the sense that we expect people to be normal and not dangerous. So much so that they don’t notice evil even when it happens next door.
It wasn’t monsters, but people like you and me, that committed atrocities in, for instance, Nazi Germany. Living under totalitarian regimes makes people do all kinds of things they would not normally do. The same applies when you live in a war zone. Killing other people frequently becomes normal. Same thing applies to soldiers who “have a licence to kill”.
People commit actions that can be labelled evil out of fear, for selfish reasons, to feel powerful, because they are desperate, group pressure or simply because they are obeying the law and carrying out what the regime expects of them.
Why do we turn a blind eye?
Less evil would take place if the majority of people didn’t turn a blind eye. If we look at the Third Reich again, some people did decide to see and hear what was going on. Sadly they didn’t survive the war. But what would have happened if all human beings decided to see and hear evil? People like Hitler and Radovan Karadzic would have been regarded as pathetic, would not they? We actually allow evil to happen by turning a blind eye.The massacre that took place in Norway a couple of years ago was swiftly called evil. The perpetrator was labelled insane and a terrorist. The easy option that enables politicians to ignore the rise of far right anti immigrant parties in Europe was chosen.
Wouldn’t it be better for mainstream Western politicians to face up to the reasons behind the massacre and talk about the real stresses and imagined strains that have come with rising immigration and the multicultural society that emerged?Unfortunately islamophobia, partly a result on the war on terror, has fueled the rise of anti-immigration parties all over Europe that sometimes have attained considerable political power.
If mainstream politicians are not willing to deal with inconvenient issues the only winners will be the far right. There will be elements of such a debate that everybody will find uncomfortable, but it’s something that mainstream politicians and authorities just have to engage in. It will really be difficult but is essential in order to increase understanding and make old and new Europeans live together in harmony.
Find solutions and stop hiding behind convenient labels
It’s not possible to keep on just calling atrocities evil and ignoring the underlying problems. The West has hidden behind the label evil for ten years and it’s time to move on. If not, it’s just a question of how long it will take before more evil is committed by another European fanatic or Islamic fundamentalist. It will benefit both Europeans and immigrants to make multiculturalism the wonderful society it can be instead of letting resentment grow on both sides.
(Photo: Freenerd – Flickr)