There has yet to be an adequate philosophy of evil, much less a scientific explanation of it. The subject is too important, and urgent, to be left to religions and theologies.
I don’t intend to be academic in the least about the subject, since I’ve encountered too much of it in my life, and darkness/evil is the most palpable and pressing reality of our age. It’s also the most ignored and denied reality, the proverbial elephant in the room.
The worldwide terrorist organization known as ISIS, ISIL, IS or Daesh (just as the devil itself, it has many names) have made themselves the poster boys of evil by chopping off heads and burning pilots in cages for YouTube consumption. As such they have enabled the West, and America in particular, to point to THEM as the locus and embodiment of evil.
After all, it’s easy to project the evils of one’s own government and society onto others if evil pigs want to be scapegoats, and welcome as much hatred and bombs as the coalition of the swilling can throw at them.
Daesh’s blatant evil is a convenient truth allowing the evasion of a pervasive reality in Western societies, to which the majority of people have numbed themselves. The numbing down of the heart a reaction to the everyday experience of random acts of unspeakable cruelty that have become a given in America and the world as a whole.
Kindness and compassion have not ceased to exist, but they held up like talismans, and lauded on the news as proof of our goodness as a people. However the very fact that they are wrapped in such sentimentality, even heroism, attests to the opposite.
The coldest ice at the core of ISIS is still human, just as a human committed the diabolical act of mass slaughter of the children of Newtown. Evil is man-made, a human phenomenon, though one as distanced as death from everyday experience—until it happens to us, or someone close to us.
The Bush-Cheney Administration was probably the first genuinely evil administration in American history. America had certainly done evil before Bush-Cheney, including dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima, where President Obama will be the first sitting president to visit later this month.
President Obama “should acknowledge that dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a mistake – a war crime,” said Tadashi Sawada, a member of the Hiroshima Alliance for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. “Unless he is prepared to do that, then I see no point in him coming.”
There is no chance of that, and little chance he’ll even visit the harrowing exhibits at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. He may. President Obama has operated like he’s above it all, and can have things both ways.
“When he made that speech in Prague [in 2009, calling for a nuclear free world] he gave a lot of people reason to be hopeful, but what has he achieved in the seven years since then? I can’t help feeling that he won the Nobel peace prize on the back of a lie,” Sawada said.
The Mephistophelian Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said Barack Obama will “shine a spotlight on the tremendous and devastating human toll of war” and “honor the memory of all innocents who were lost.” Sure that will work. It will satisfy no one, and do nothing for Obama’s legacy.
Sunao Tsuboi, 90, was a 20-year-old student on the day of the attack. He has become the public face of the hibakusha – the radiation-exposed survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “The nuclear age came about because something had gone seriously wrong with humankind as a whole, not just with the US,” he said.
The same can be said of terrorism. Global terrorism, which was in great measure aided and abetted by the invasion of Iraq under Bush-Cheney, came about because something has gone seriously wrong with humankind as a whole, not just in the Islamic world.
In any case, as reported yesterday in the New York Times this is Obama’s true legacy:
“As US and allied officials celebrated the opening of a long-awaited missile defense system in Europe, the reaction in Moscow on Thursday was darker: a public discussion of how nuclear war might play out in Europe and the prospect that Romania, the host nation for the US-built system, might be reduced to “smoking ruins.”
Whether President Obama is a placeholder for the evils that are sure to be unleashed under a President Trump (who has said Japan should acquire nuclear weapons for its own defense), or America turns away from darkness and deadness, depends on the people now, not just on Barack Obama.
There are many questions that urgently need insight. But it may come down to these: Is man’s accretion of darkness driving human transmutation? In other words, in the end is the devil doing God’s work?