Saturday, December 29, 2012


Following the Newtown, Connecticut (Sandy Hook Elementary School) shootings, I saw several reports and commentaries that referred to the shooter, Adam Lanza, as "evil."  This struck me as strange, because I never thought of him as evil.  Disturbed, unhappy, or perhaps even defective, but never evil.

So what is "evil"?

I might think of a complete sociopath as evil, but I usually reserve the use of the word "evil" for institutions or large groups of people who are either inflicting intentional suffering on others or who are completely indifferent to the suffering that they are causing.  So (for example), I consider the policies that led us to imprison people at Guantanamo Bay to be more evil than the people imprisoned there.

But that's me.  Others think of evil differently.

And that's the point.  "Evil" is the word we apply to the bad things that we fear the most.

Which brings us to A Course in Miracles.  The introduction states that:
The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.
I don't fear individuals, because I can see something of God in them, which is another way of saying that I can love individuals. 

I don't see God in institutions or policies, and I can't love a government.  And so I fear the sufferings that groups of people can inflict.