By Steven Worth
In his book “People of the Lie,” the late psychiatrist Scott Peck addressed the question of evil. Surprisingly for a psychiatrist trained as a doctor in the latest scientific techniques of treating people who are suffering, Peck observes there is such a thing as pure evil that has no cause and no purpose other than to harm, to destroy, and to propagate itself. His description of evil sounds a lot like that of the novelist Dean Koontz: “Evil walks among us, wearing a mask which looks like all our faces.”
After affirming this, using examples from his long experience as a medical practitioner, Peck reflects on how best to treat or to deal with evil. His conclusion has stuck with me these many years. He stated that the key is in understanding that evil seeks above all to propagate itself. That means, like any disease, evil is parasitic and seeks to spread itself by using its host–it seeks to create more evil like itself. Therefore the best way to fight evil is with good, with justice, with tolerance, and with love; that ceding to the temptation to respond in kind—fighting fire with fire—is to fall into its trap, and it wins.
Humanity has suffered greatly this past week–our public servants, and innocents across the globe who were slaughtered as they were simply going about their lives. Witnessing such horror caused Elie Wiesel to doubt his faith–otherwise, how could God tolerate such things?
I heard a priest once observe that we have a right to be angry with God; but we also need to keep in mind that a loving God is crying right along with us.
All those who are dedicated to improving society need to rise, to do now what each is able to do to show the better side of humanity. Maya Angelou’s words seem appropriate today:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.