The True Source of Evil

We see a lot of evil in the real world. Iím thinking specifically of a recent shooting spree in Colorado but I could easily have been recalling a car bombing, a local murder or the latest Syrian headline. But in spite of our acquaintance with it, recent Hollywood productions rarely seem to understand the true source of Evil. 

Most movie villains are pretty weak compared to those in the real world. Theyíre unstylish and vulgar, usually ugly and often cruel for crueltyís sake. Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter movies is a perfect example. Heís ugly (bald and noseless) and seems to enjoy hurting people, even his closest associates, sometimes just for the sake of it. And when his Deatheaters trash the Quiddich Cup they seem more like a gang of vandals than a political terrorist group. At least when Al Quaida blows up a church in Baghdad, itís to deliver a political message. The Deatheaters were simply having a good time.  

Very unpleasant characters, sure, but theyíve weak personalities. They lack depth. And I think this is because secular progressive Hollywood just doesnít understand Evil. Ugly, yes. Unpleasant, for sure. But not Evil with a capital E.   

That the primary aspect of Evil might be being tasteless or ugly shows a misunderstanding of what Evil truly is. Evil can be very attractive. The Bible describes Satan as an "angel of light," the "Son of the Morning Star." The reddish fellow with horns and a pitchfork is all Hollywood. If you met the real Devil he'd more likely be wearing a suit and tie.

No, the true source of Evil isnít merely a lack of taste or style. No one can accuse the Nazis of lacking style. Long before he created sports cars, Ferdinand Porsche designed tanks for them. Modern rock concerts today owe most of their theatrical techniques to 1930s Nazi Party rallies. And the Nazis introduced the Olympic tradition of running the torch up from Greece to the site of the games, making an event of lighting the official torch at the opening of the 1936 games. 

The black uniforms of the SS were actually designed by Hugo Boss. Theyíre a cut above those of any contemporary military, making their rivals seem rather drab in comparison. Compare their slick black boots, deathís head insignia and silver embroidered rank badges to the dowdy khaki outfits British officers wore. And the dreary brown American dress uniforms of the period seem designed almost as camouflage the way the wearers blend into the background of any occasion. Yet the deeds of the SS during the war made even the bloody-handed Soviets seem like choirboys. 

The true source of Evil isnít mere vandalism or cruelty, although it can manifest in those ways. The reason the Nazis switched to gas from shooting was out of compassion... for the shooters. A lot of their einsatgruppen commandos were coming down with PTSD from having to shoot all those women and children. Gassing was so much less stressful. And the Nazis didnít torture, rape or torment their victims, merely put them to death in much the same way others might deal with sick, wounded or unwanted animals and for the same reason.  To the Nazis mental defectives were "useless eaters." Jews, Gypsies and Slavs were sub-human, merely vermin that messed up the neighborhood like a pack of stray cats.

No, the true nature of evil isnít an ugly personality or uncouth actions, and itís not cruelty. Cruelty and vandalism are evil, but they donít live up to the standards to truly be Evil. The true source of Evil is selfishness, putting yourself, your own desires first with no consideration for others. 

Robbing the neighborhood Quickie-Mart is petty as such things go. It's done because the thief just wants to make some quick cash and rarely results in much worse than maybe a murder or two. To generate huge piles of corpses requires altruistic motives. The Nazis killed pretty close to 50 million people between their death camps and the world war they started. They killed more than 20 million Russians and half the Jews in the entire world at the time, around six million people, efficiently and with impeccable taste. And they did it all to make the world a better place. 

At least that was their idea. They didnít kill all those people to be bad or because they needed beer money or their mothers toilet trained them too early. They did it because they believed in a glorious future for humanity (or the fraction left after they killed off all the rest they felt contaminated the human gene pool.) They were doing the world a favor by killing off the Jews and Gypsies and Slavs and Poles and all the other huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Himmler thought it a great joke that the Zyclon B gas used in the extermination camps had originally been developed as a fumigation agent for getting ride of vermin like rats, mice and bugs. To the Nazis, the Final Solution was little more than an exercise in pest control.

For monumental Evil you need a monumental ego to think your ideas trump everyone elseís. Everyone must bend to your will, and die if thatís whatís necessary because, well, because you know better than anyone else. Other people are stupid, they make the wrong choices. They donít know whatís good for themselves, so itís up to you to make sure they do the right thing, even if they donít want to. And if that means taking away choices, putting a few into reeducation or even killing themÖ well, canít make omelets without breaking a few eggs, can you? And omelets sure are tasty. (Unless youíre a chicken.) 

The creep in Colorado thought itíd be cool to play the Joker for a night, and if a dozen people had to die for his fun, so be it. But the root of his crime, and of the Nazis and the people who built the Berlin Wall or crashed airliners into the Twin Towers is the same. Itís putting their wants ahead of other people. Thatís the true source of Evil.

And the seed of that Evil lies inside each one of us.

You may not agree with me morally or politically but as I believe in religious and political tolerance, I'm OK with that. write me and tell me what you think. I'd be glad to hear from you. And if you're looking for a good novel to take your mind off current events try:

The Queen's Martian Rifles