Recently, I was reading an interview given by a very knowledgeable and well spoken nutritionist, who very clearly knew what she was talking about. (Yes, I’m being redundant.) But the interviewer was quite sharp in his own right. He asked the nutritionist, you go around teaching these principles, do people listen to you?
And her answer was somewhat shocking and blunt: no, she said. Absolutely not.
And why is that? came the follow-up question. Because people are too addicted to fast food. To grabbing something “naughty” at the check-out counter. To Starbucks.
People may want to read about or listen to what they should be eating, but, in private, people eat what makes them feel good. Or what they think makes them feel good.
So I started thinking about this phenomenon. We should eat healthily, but we don’t. Eventually it made me see how this applies to all sorts of things in our lives. We should be doing this and that, but we don’t. We just don’t.
And, then, for some unknown reason, I wondered about evil itself.
This past summer I settled into a lot of reading about evil, not a topic that I enjoy studying, and after a few months, I realized that I had my own way of thinking about this matter. I categorized it according to my own “seeings” of it. The first category was the ordinary face of evil.
I defined the ordinary face of evil as those actions that we take, that look on the surface as not huge, but added up cause harm to our own lives and to the world. I used as one example the very careless way that youth use drugs, tossing away any concerns about it with the attitude that, after all, it doesn’t hurt anyone.
And yet there are children who cannot go to school in Mexico because the drug wars in that country have become so intense that some towns cannot take the risk of having their children leave their own homes. There are wars around the world focused on the distribution of drugs to feed the habits of self-indulgent youth in America who can look no farther than the ends of their noses.
So I kept thinking about picking up, in the blink of an eye, that bag of potato chips perched conveniently at the end of the grocery-store aisle, telling ourselves that a bag of potato chips once in a while is no big deal.
Then I wondered, is evil like a bag of potato chips? Do we do something that’s just slightly evil, like flirting with a married man on Facebook, and then, because it feels so delicious while we convince ourselves that one flirtation once in a while is no big deal, we continue to do it. Again. And then again. And then again some more.
Do we keep doing these “small” acts of evil until we get slammed into the wall of reality that tells us that, no, after all, acts of evil, no matter how small we deem them, can and do cause real harm?
Do we, in reality, begin a conversation with these small acts of evil, confiding in the potato chip or the computer keys of the sadness that haunts our souls? And then, in response, does evil whisper back how a little bit of self-gratification never killed anyone.
Well, except Abel, indirectly.
Enjoying word play, I turned the question around. I changed, is evil an addiction, to, is addiction evil?
And that made me look at our society. At how far we have come to “normalize” addictions: alcohol, sex, spending. There’s nothing morally wrong about these things any more, and there’s nothing really wrong about these acts that sitting in a circle with like-minded people can’t cure.
Can’t an addiction be likened to being caught by the assuaging, false promises of evil? These acts provide a stimulation for us, a stimulation that catches us and caresses us. Are these not false promises of love? False promises of care? If you take that one more drink, you will experience that you are cared for. You will feel it.
And we desperately want to feel loved and cared for. So some of us get caught in the lies, in the false promise that self-indulgence offers us.
The biggest promise, of course, is the promise that this one, small act won’t hurt anyone, after all.
This brings me back to thinking on the promises of gangs: that belonging to a gang will be like being part of family. You will be taken care of. You will be part of this illusion of love and share our blood. You will be one of us.
Are we so desperate to be attached, to feel connected, that we ignore the anger and hatred, the very real pain, that encases the addiction? What are we giving to evil, exactly, in return for the whispers of devotion?
In the end, the answer is, our souls. Our very precious, delicate, and beloved souls. Our means of staying connected with God.
So many times Jesus tells those around him, go, get rid of your possessions. Rid yourself of your attachments to those things on Earth. Rid yourself, even, of your sense of family.
Is this why? Is this because everything around us can hide the face of ordinary evil, stretching out its finger to beckon us, floating sounds of fidelity and adoration in our direction?
In our culture of having being the deity, and yes being the only word allowed, it is astonishing when the word, no, comes into play. It shocks us. Rocks us to our bones. Planned Parenthood CAN’T be denied a sponsor because they are under investigation! Gays CAN’T be denied anything their little hearts want when they want it!
Love may not now be only defined as self-gratification, it might even go so far as to be defined as addiction. Addiction that creeps up on us, captures our souls, and goes on to own us completely.
Did you know that there are ministers out in the world that lead their congregations to pray for the president’s very real death?
I guess it’s no longer enough to consider what one can do get people to vote the way you would like them to. People now think it’s necessary to try to bring God down to their level, and join in their communion of hatred.
How many small acts of evil did it take for these ministers to justify such a horrendous heresy?
More significantly, once so deep into the heart of evil, what does one do to get out and back to God again?