Good and Evil

December 3, 2011 9:40 am Published by Leave your thoughts

What happened to considerations of good and evil? I seem to remember in my long-ago formal education, trying to distinguish them. How do you recognize evil when you encounter it in its often seductive disguises? I considered this question in the 70’s writing a play called “A Fable.” If our innocent heroine, questing to kill evil, finally encountered the Beast itself, how ever could she recognize it?

Certain characteristics reveal the presence of evil. Evil is speedy, skims the surface, doesn’t pause for breath. It is cerebral merely, abstract – a decapitated head unattached to feeling.

Like Dickens in “Bleak House” smelling evil in the dusty law records of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, we can smell it in roundabout tax laws with loopholes for the richest corporations, in credit card contracts tricking us into accepting usury, in the fine print of mortgage agreements designed to evict, in crippling student loan contracts constructed to enrich banks, in insurance documents that exclude healing in favor of “the health industry,” whatever that is.

Evil is non-empathetic – unable to feel other people’s pain, to see that others are as entitled as itself.

We feel it in the smug reassurances of bankers announcing they’re merely conducting their daily capitalist business when employing armies of lobbyists to repeal financial regulatory laws, and themselves becoming heads of government agencies charged with regulating the banks.

We feel it in a weapons industry and a government deaf to the cries of children and others wounded in a bombing, or of women raped.

Evil is in Jamestown, Pennsylvania in a company blandly named “Combined Systems” which manufactures and sells tons of tear gas to the Egyptian army who use it to maim protestors in Tahir Square.

Evil doesn’t care about Global Warming, won’t hear about developing alternate energy sources.

Evil lies in the pompous speeches of dictators, of gray-faced mayors and governors perpetuating their own power.

Alright, already. So what is good?

Good is Occupy Wall Street and related public gatherings of non-violent citizens who have found their voice, our voice, (the 99%). Good is gentle but firm like a good mother’s hand. Good is in creating art and in singing. Good is in listening to and interacting with others – in General Assembly, on Facebook and Twitter. Good is in community, in helping oneself and others through mindful, kind, spontaneous action. Good is the magnetic atmosphere that draws many of us to be with, in, and around Occupy locales.

Two days ago police violently evicted Occupy Los Angeles, arresting 300. They arrested 50 in Philadelphia where one horrified occupier described police arriving “on five huge horses” (Apocalypse, anyone?) trampling his girlfriend. So far in the United States 5000 occupiers have been arrested.

On a New York public access cable channel, I watched footage, with no accompanying commentary, of a small group of occupiers sitting in front of Goldman Sachs. (This footage is another laudable example of the ubiquitous anonymous communication of events around Occupy Wall Street.) The occupiers sat calmly, arms linked, on the ground. Then, one by one arrested, accompanied by a burly blue-clad armed police person, each occupier – some carried, some walking – was cheered by the crowd.

I watched the expression on the policemen’s and policewomen’s faces as they went about their duties. The police looked unhappy, bewildered perhaps. “The criminals are inside!” chanted the occupiers. When this truth fully settles in the imagination of the 99%, including the police – the power citadels will crumble.


Categorised in:

This post was written by Jean Claude van Itallie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *