L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 244, October 26, 2003
"We're throwing away the future"
The Kaptain's Log:
Exclusive to TLE
Now, there's something you don't see me write every day. Bob is an anti-imperialist fighter for peace, a Libertarian super-hero who fears naught but the Cheese Monster, and a real mensch. Consequently, I rarely disagree with him; however... on the topic of the subject of the existence of good and evil people he is wrong.
In an article which he wrote sometime earlier this year, he claimed that, "...there actually is no 'evil'." In elucidating, he made further contentions, such as the notion that "evil people" don't exist, so much as "sick" or "bent" ones. Again, he is wrong. I was struck by the inescapably pure Evil etched in the face of Donald Rumsfeld in a recent photo. If he had "666" tattooed on his forehead, it couldn't be clearer what this man has become. And unfortunately, he isn't the only one...
There are most definitely purely evil people; it isn't just amorphous institutions, systems and ways of looking at the world that are evil. Some people descend so far as to cross over to the side of Satan, whether consciously or not. They do, in fact, sell their souls to the devil; they consign themselves to Hell.
How is this done? Is there a midnight visit from some horned, tailed pitchfork-wielding crimson imp asking, "Do you want to play 'Let's Make A Deal', chump?" Possibly. One would have to get an honest answer from George W Bush to know for sure, but the odds against that happening are incalculable.
One thing can be stated as a fact, however; people frequently have major moral choices to make. I believe that their decisions influence the status of their immortal souls. True, most of us are neither all Good nor all Evil, but our major ethical and moral decisions fall on one side of another of that great divide.
Happily, most of the day to day choices one must make are not of the major kind, so even the worst of them can usually be corrected by future actions. Some of the most momentous, wrong decisions made in times of crisis, however, are all but impossible for most people to want to reverse. That's the seductive aspect of Evil; it encourages people to figuratively paint themselves into corners, and to stay there "just until the paint dries," which, of course, almost never happens. For the "paint" is the blood of innocents, and the longer they linger in their moral/ethical corner, the more of it they spill, and the wetter it becomes.
Statists like the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Baby Bush Dynasty and their toadies, advisors, grand viziers, chicken hawks, sorcerers, apologists and assorted hangers-on, for example, make (and endorse) decisions to have innocent human beings killed in pursuit of their personal and political goals. Those decisions, once made, are very hard to repudiate. How do those who are perverted, evil and weak enough, in the first place, to consider innocent men, women, children and unborn babies as "collateral damage", find the kind of moral strength and courage to one day say, "I was wrong and did great evil."? (Robt McNamara-style rationalisations and excuses about having "made mistakes" definitely do not count here, kids.) How many of the Nazis ever did this? How many Soviets? Go ahead, make a list, I'll wait...
Once they have decided to slaughter the innocent, they must justify it to themselves, and then to others. Those two steps are the ones that constitute the signatures on the contracts to sell their souls... "You want a big empire? No problem; just sign here... and here... done!"
On the other hand, some people make a conscious decision to serve God, whether they know it or not, and whether they even believe in Him or not. They recognise that which is Good, and they pursue it, even at great cost to their narrow self-interests. They usually don't make a big public show of it, and, unlike the BeelzeBubbas and Gollum W Bushies, they don't use God as their excuse to do evil, but as their guide to doing His work.
Mother Teresa and Princess Diana (two women who worked together to try to eliminate the horror of land mines, among their many other charitable works), Jean Vanier, who has devoted his life to helping the mentally retarded live in dignity, uncounted thousands of anonymous medical personnel who work selflessly among even those afflicted with highly contagious, fatal diseases, the man who sacrificed his life shortly after he stood against the tanks in Tienanmen Square armed only with his shopping bags, men like Nat Hentoff who work tirelessly to promote and protect the civil liberties of others, firemen the world over who risk their own lives to protect the lives and property of others, comedians who make our lives bearable with the gift of laughter, and innumerable other examples prove that there is pure Good in the world. While its practitioners are not themselves purely good, the interesting thing is that, a) they usually know that and don't need to be told, and b) each one tries to make decisions in that direction despite the impossibility of achieving absolute Good in this life.
As a Christian, I don't find this to be either surprising or contradictory; it's just the way things are. There are those who have allowed themselves to become purely Evil, and the Good cannot match them in extent, but I believe that even that limited, flawed Good that ordinary people can achieve is a stronger force in Eternity than the Evil done by Satan and his warmongering, abortionist minions. The "victory" of Evil can never be more than a Pyrrhic one.
As for their temporary, temporal victories, to Hell with them -- it's
where they originated, anyway. To mankind, on the other hand, I wish
the continued, unfaltering striving to achieve the good and Holy