Because everyone believes they're doing the 'right' thing for the 'right' reasons
I'm afraid one trap good people fall into is believing that evil people are like themselves and are simply on the other side of an issue. Evil people are not like you nor do they wish to be. They actually view your humanity as a failing. They do not want what you want and believing that simply proving them opportunities available to you makes you vulnerable to their predations. Yes, good people foolishly and selfishly do evil things, however evil people are legitimately that: Evil
You're right, of course.
The problem I see is that most people are looking first and foremost for a reason to morally excuse evil behavior. When we concentrate on "the people aren't evil, it's their behavior that's evil," then the majority of the population uses that to excuse the *behavior*.
They need it to be primarily about defending the "essence" of another person. They are primarily concerned with defending a person's moral reputation. So "John is not evil" becomes more important than stopping the actual evil behavior that John is engaged in.
I don't know what to do about this. What do you think, Adam?
I've long said that Progressives are hard to argue with because they (mostly) come from a place of concern and compassion. Hence, any disagreement must come from unconcern at best, and hatred at worst. And you are correct, evidence be damned.
Part of the problem adjacent to this topic is how decisions (moral, ethical, political) and associations (BLM, MAGA, revolutionary whatever) can really be upheld as a form of identity- any argument or viewpoint that destabilizes that framework is therefore taken as a personal attack. People become the walking/talking motif of their cause and to destroy the cause (or prove it unnecessary or questionable) is to destroy them. It is almost impossible to do this in casual conversation, but can be done- if that is your thing. One thinks of Daryl Davis as a prime example of someone who conquered that awful plight of identarian stubbornness. Anyhow, kudos for the framing you suggest- that all sides are assuming their own humanity and goodness. It reminds me of when someone says “oh, you always think you are right” – well of course, we do. Nobody goes around thinking they are wrong. Evil, surely, exists, but it is in fact, very rare. The same goes for insanity- almost nobody is “crazy”, in the true sense. It might be hard to square, but most people have a "good" reason for believing what they do- although it could be very incorrect.
A good post. I am very concerned today about evil here in the UK. I know many Jewish people and many Muslims, all of whom are angry or scared (or both) about the rise of extremist groups. There are groups here who can openly rant on the street, groups who are banned in other countries, and for good reason: They are dangerous people. Are they evil? I am obliged to think some of them are. We can dig deep into the psychology, perhaps some have PTSD, some are brainwashed, some might have very low IQs and be easily manipulated, but the end effect is the same, people do not feel safe here.
As it stands, I do not want to bring children into this particular country. I have seen how the police buries certain crimes, how they punish free expression, and how they side lazily with hate groups which other countries have already gotten rid of. It is disturbing. I know people who have been assaulted and whose cases were dropped by a police force bent on spin, not justice. It's not just them scoring political brownie points, it starts as simple as allowing thugs to bribe their way out of sentences by offering the cops knowledge about other thugs.
I'm left-wing, but I think there is a rising and cancerous cult of narcissism in the left which has a very basic programming underneath it. Simply, that is is more expedient to PRETEND to be good than to actually BE good. This means that we have blinded ourselves and opened ourselves up for people who might take advantage of how welcoming we are, all because we are in a desperate competition to be the most welcoming people in the world. We tolerate the intolerant, and LGBT groups open their arms to people who genuinely do not see them as people.
Many people I know here do not feel safe in the UK. Especially the cities. Today it just got darker.
This is actually biblically sound commentary. Evil often masquerades as good, and an effective counterfeit must resemble the real thing. And evil LOVES a world that sees “good” as subjective and ambiguous. When there is no common moral anchor, society devolves. This is where we are. Abortions of convenience ARE objectively evil. Hedonistic lifestyles ARE objectively evil. Terrorism and negotiating with terrorists ARE BOTH objectively evil. Racism towards or discrimination against people of ANY color IS objectively evil. Theft and rioting ARE objectively evil. Pornography IS evil. Justifying evil with evil IS evil. Lying to profit one’s self IS evil. Greed IS evil. Thankfully, as society embraces evil, those who would embrace it are getting more and more bold in doing so. If you ground yourself in objective truth, they are becoming increasingly easy to spot. It’s very easy to recognize sources that have zero credibility as they publish stories that out them as bedfellows of evil, but too many continue to view them as reliable sources. It’s really as easy as this, when your favorite news source trusts terrorist over the president they endorsed, recognize that it isn’t a reliable source. When your favorite politician says horrible things about how to treat women, while at the same time lying about his Christianity, recognize he’s a charlatan. Evil is a bipartisan issue. While conservatives are on the side of good in most cases, especially social issues and geopolitics, the politicians “representing” conservatives are self-serving, greedy, and corrupt. The political system we have demands accountability, both from we the people, and also from the fourth estate (which is supposed to be unbiased and relentless in its pursuit of the truth FOR the truth’s sake). Instead, we have the corporate media which is in bed with the government, and they both have the same master: crony capitalism. Massive banks and huge corporations have FAR too much power in politics. The scale is out of balance. Our founders understood the inadequacy of men in concern to their ability to morally handle power, which is why they favored decentralization and the presence of checks and balances. Right now, there are not enough checks. The media is not checking the government, and the government is not checking the powerful. Instead they are colluding with one another for their own profit, at the expense of everyone else. This is true in our agricultural systems, our markets, our corporate structures, our healthcare industry (namely pharmaceuticals), our policies of foreign trade, our national “defense,” and many other sectors. The key point you hit on was “justification.” That is how evil works. Most people have a God given ability to sense when they are doing wrong, and since the garden, the liar’s gift has been providing us justifications to enable to do the wrongs our flesh craves.
"There was nothing more dangerous than people convinced of their own good intentions." ~ Laura Lippman
"Because the horror of Communism, Stalinism, is not that bad people do bad things - they always do. It's that good people do horrible things thinking they are doing something great." ~Slavoj Žižek
"To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good." ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
"Those who are convinced they have a monopoly on The Truth always feel that they are only saving the world when they slaughter the heretics." ~Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.