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Perhaps one of the qualities that has generated the most stories throughout Literature is evil, which is as inherent in the human spirit as its opposite, goodness. However, how this word is defined in the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language.
If we seek the definition of “evil”, we will find that in its first meaning it defines it as “bad quality”. Going further we can find that the word “bad” has in the DICTIONARY of the RAE several meanings, the number eleven being the one that defines it as a qualifying adjective that refers to “one person: wicked, misinclined”.
Thus the word ‘evil’ is linked to the nature of an individual who wants to do evil to others by simple perversion.
In this sense we wanted to review what the greatest thinkers of all ages have thought or written about this quality of the human soul, so that we could have a clear idea of how the different generations have conceived it. Here are some of the most relevant phrases about evil, once uttered by history’s most important artists and intellectuals:
Evil is not what enters man’s mouth, but what comes out of it. (Jesus Christ)
This judgment, outlined in the Bible and attributed to the founder of Christianity, seeks to express that evil is within man, that is, that it is inherent in his nature, that is why Jesus of Nazareth (read more information in Jesus of Nazareth Biography) warns the men, in clear reference to the Jewish rituals that classified some foods as pure, and others as impure, that we should not take care of both what enters our bodies, as what comes out of it.
That is, our works and words may contain more evil than for example a piece of pork, an animal considered unclean by the Jews. Thus, by being more aware of the goodness of our actions than of the purity or not of our food, we will be better off to do good.
The better one is, the more difficult he becomes suspicious of the wickedness of others. (Cicero)
In what could be a parallel of the popular saying “think wrong and you will be right”, this Roman philosopher and ororator – who lived between 106 BC and 43 BC – reveals that everyone judges their fellowmen according to their condition , because the kinder a person’s heart is, the more it will be difficult for him to foresee or calculate the degree of evil that may be in others, since he cannot anticipate or know in advance something that is not proper to his nature.
A kind being will expect the goodness of others, while although he knows that evil exists, he is not able to measure the scopes of it, because he is not accustomed to that kind of nature.
For evil to triumph, it is only necessary that the good ones do nothing. (Edmund Burke)
Consono with the classic dichotomous vision of good and evil, this Irish writer and politician – who lived between 1729 and 1797, emphasizes that evil is only capable of triumph when good isn´t opposed to it, in order to prevent its task. In this sense fighting evil is one of the obligations with which the kind people of the world are committed. Thus, in constant opposition from the good, evil will have no chance of triumph.
The world is not in danger of evil people, but for those who allow evil. (Albert Einstein)
In the same tone, this German scientist, who lived between 1879 and 1955, points to the immense responsibility that kind humans have to place a stone of a tranca on evil.
Somehow this scientist wants to point out that evil, consonant with his nature, will always seek to establish himself and harm men of different tenacity and who must oppose the free deployment of evil in the world. In short, the responsibility for evil in the world is not of evil itself, but of those who allow it to grow and spread among us.
Whoever with monsters fights takes care of turning into a monster. When you look at an abyss for a long time, the abyss also looks inside you. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
However, faced with the responsibility to fight evil, the kind human cannot ignore the warning given by this German philosopher, who warns – with great poetic tone – to the human soul the possibility of contagion that exists when we carry a lot time in contact with evil.
In this sense we must have awareness, when we decide to fight evil, that to face a monster sometimes we must imitate its practices or begin to know its nature, so sooner or later we will end up becoming one. In this way, Nietzsche seems to say that the best way to avoid evil is to move away from it, in order to prevent the abyss from filling us.
Image source: mexico.cnn.com
August 31, 2019