And by “we” I mean writers and parents and teachers, and anyone who is supposed to give them an idea of how the world works.
By “children” I mean those of us who were children in the last 50, maybe the last 70 years, and although the problem is most prevalent in America, it has — like most things — spread from America to the rest of the world.
We’re failing our children by denying the existence of evil, or even of dysfunction with no reason other than because it exists.
Perhaps it’s the Freudian paradigm infiltration in society, that every evil, every dysfunction and malfunction must have a cause, and if you fix the cause it will be all solved, and we’ll have utopia. Perhaps it’s an excess of compassion, the same therapeutic mind set that seems to be dismantling Western Society. Perhaps it is simply that after WWII most people wanted to forget there was evil, true evil, and avert their eyes and think instead that “something went wrong” in the childhood of all those people, who weren’t monsters, not even a little bit.
You can see the problem with this in the way we handled communism. If what happened in Germany was the result of some sort of society-wide trauma, and not the result of humans being humans, then it won’t repeat itself in every society where you have the power to do it, and the means. The dehumanization of a segment of population won’t happen unless it’s somehow racial and there’s white supremacy involved. We’re safe, and sound, as long as we don’t have that many people traumatized at the same time. Which if you think about, leads not only to ignoring the patent and obvious dangers of leftist (and supposedly non-discriminatory) totalitarian regimes, but also to thinking of “enforced diversity” as a sort of panacea, and the ultimate crime being making someone feel bad.
But it leads to a lot of other things. I keep coming back to the idiots who thought Saddam couldn’t have Weapons of Mass Destruction because most of Iraq didn’t even have a safe source of water. Well, hell. For that argument to be valid, every ruler’s first priority must be looking after his people, not say, controlling them, or staying in power by causing wars with other countries. To go around the world thinking that war is caused by poverty, or that people only fight when they have no other choice, is to go around the jungle clutching your binkie. It’s to imagine that every country is American suburbia writ large. (And the worst part is I think the idiot who said that and volunteered to be a “shield” was a British trucker. Which goes to show you.)
It leads to private issues, too: from women who think that the downright evil, anti-social son of a b*tch that is aggressive towards them must have suffered a lot to be that mean and how therefore determine to save them by loving them; to private charity and social programs that give and give and give without any requirements of moral or intellectual improvement on the recepient’s part because if only you give enough people will suddenly become like the giver: industrious and capable to running their lives and being frugal and self-controlled. Of course this causes even more dysfunction. And circling around again to the public, this is why soft heads and tender hearts want to receive refugees in uncounted numbers and immigrants, illegal, in vast hordes. Sure, the people at the top might think it’s time to get themselves a new people, but not the rank and file. The rank and file just have the vague idea that they only did well because they were born in a blessed place of rule of law and prosperity, and therefore they think that if other people were brought to this place, they’ll be transformed.
On the personal level again, thinking that evil has origin in hurt, in some great wrong, that no one becomes evil without being first a victim, leads to people not understanding their own hearts. It leads to people who are, objectively, privileged, in birth and wealth and who have never suffered discrimination thinking that they are therefore free of evil. Every cry bully who ever tormented another human being thinks that they cannot do evil, because they haven’t been victimized and their intentions are pure.
This nonsense leads to “pathologizing” natural behavior too, and to idiocy like the mother who turned her child into a psychopath by thinking the fact a teething baby will chew on boobs meant he was some kind of nonredeemable monster, instead of thinking of it as natural behavior that needed to be curbed.
Because everything man or child or woman or possibly cat does that is evil must mean he’s either traumatized or something is wrong at the organic level.
And why do I say writers are included in this? Oh, hell, writers, story tellers, teachers…
We’ve been told so often that everyone has his reasons, and that no one is a villain in his own mind, that we buy that, and we write that, and we propagate this “evil comes from wounding” idea.
Most popular movies, most books written in the last 75 years, most stories that parents tell children, most historical interpretations rely on that “hurt before evil” model.
We’ve translated this to our education, too. You don’t smack children, even once and with great deliberation, because of course, if we hurt them, they’ll turn evil. (“You’ll just teach them violence.”) We look for therapeutic solutions for crime and talk of victims of society. We try to embrace the evil dictatorships abroad and make them feel loved so they’ll be nice. (Obama’s insane apology tour. My brother being very scared of Bush threatening “poor, little, mad North Korea.” because that would only make them worse. Etc.)
We’re failing our children. We’re failing them in the peculiar way most of us were failed as children.
Humans aren’t born angelic and perfect. Evil doesn’t grow in a soul as a result of trauma. No human being is free of evil impulses and desires, ever.
Evil, so far as it admits to a generalized definition, is unrestrained power: personal, national, global.
Evil is doing what you want to do with no restraint, and no thought for others. And it is the tendency of every human to do so, until he/she runs into obstacles and pain enough that he/she realizes the rest of the world has a vote. (On the pain, yes, you can do time outs, or, worse, verbal rants that hurt enough to make the kids stop anti-social behavior. I always thought a quick smack when they’re young enough to respond to negative stimulus is less cruel, in the end.)
A child, a generation, a nation, a group that has never been taught that its impulses must be restrained, that the rest of the world gets a vote, that you have to take other people as self-willed agents in consideration, is evil. It doesn’t matter if they don’t think of themselves as evil, or if they imagine the result of their tyranny over their surroundings will be peace beauty and harmony (a lot of them don’t. They just know what they want.) The result is still devastation, torture, and the dehumanization of anyone else.
Power, unrestrained power, be it over your family or over a continent, will turn anyone into an evil monster, even those with saintly intentions. And many of them never even had saintly intentions, no matter what they tell you.
Criminals who can manipulate the system and evade the consequences of their actions have that sort of power. So do children surrounded by adults who assume they’re perfect and that every evil must be treated with kindness and objectively rewards. So do minorities who can lay their every dysfunction at the feet of “discrimination” and be treated even more kindly. So do women who have found that yelling “patriarchy” substitutes for effort, hard work and knowledge.
If a strategy brings no correction and is rewarded by the one deploying it being treated as a victim who needs to be consoled, you’ll only get more evil. Massively more evil. Until it chokes society.
And that’s because society at large no longer believes in evil, but only in victims lashing out.
We’re failing our children, and have been for more than half a century. We need to change the tenor of stories, of history, of criminal justice, of our very thoughts.
Evil exists. No matter how much you have been sinned against, there is no excuse to indulge in it. And yeah, no matter if you’ve never experienced trauma, evil is there. The creature in the space behind your eyes wants unlimited power and control. Everyone does. It needs no explanation. It just needs to be acknowledged as being there, as needing to be curbed and kept under control.
There is no amount of devotion to science or social justice that makes you clean of the very basic human impulse for dominion over others from which evil descends.
Prospero’s Island had Caliban. The garden had a serpent. And you too are tainted by evil, and if you ignore it it will control you.
Teach the children well.
Let’s turn ‘er ’round.