Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Nature of Evil

Evil is something which is extremely hard to define, due to the duality of human nature. Little to nothing in life is black and white, and all people are a mixture of good and bad, making it very hard to classify someone as "evil". Instead, it is easier to look at acts as evil, and then judge people by a collection of their actions. Several theories exist within philosophy to define the nature of evil, each of which, in my opinion, hold a part of the truth. One of the theories said to treat others as they wanted to be treated, in order to best respect their own humanity. I agree with this in theory, however when it comes to practice it is impossible, since every person can not be treated exactly as they want to be. Another theory was the idea of doing the least harm, meaning that the right choice was the one which helped the most people, even if that meant hurting some. Again, this theory has good qualities, but in practice it dehumanizes people and ignores the fact that everyone has a right to be treated equally. To me, being good means combining these in a way that tries to make choices which will help the most people out, but also respects everyone and treats each individual fairly. Going by this, that means that evil is when a person is dehumanized, treated poorly, or a decision is made that purposely harms a group of people. When comes face to face with evil, they have to make a choice. The easy one is usually to do nothing, and let it continue, but the right choice is to say something and stop evil from spreading. The nature of evil is that, when left unchecked, it will always grow, and it will always continue to harm people. By speaking up, each person can help in the fight against evil. Hearing from a real holocaust survivor helped put into perspective how important it is to speak up, even about the smallest things. Hitler did not start out by killing millions of people, he started with small, dehumanizing acts of discrimination, which snowballed into an unfathomable atrocity. This happened because people allowed it to by sitting quietly and watching. As Mr. Sztajer said, evil is a cancer which must be taken out piece by piece. Evil to me is not only just doing the acts yourself, but also allowing them to continue unchallenged. Good people have to think about and respect others, try to do the most good, and actively stand up against others who are doing evil.

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