Evil… what is it?

I’m considering the definition of evil. It’s rather shaky. Something I’ve pretty much settled on is that evil is any act that is intended to cause harm to others. It sort of encompasses mere bad too, though. It also leaves out a huge chunk of what evil is normally attributed to. After all, a person isn’t an act.

How can a person be evil? Is there a threshold amount of evil acts they have to commit in order to gain evilness? Like ‘dude, I crossed the evilness barrier! I’m now a level 1 trainee satan!’ Where is the threshold? Is one evil act enough to make us evil? If so, are we all evil, since we all have done at least one particularly nasty thing in our lives?

Ok, we didn’t kill people, but…. wait… maybe it’s not how many acts we did, but what level of offence they were. I can pretty much assume killing multiple people is top of the evil list.But even that is not straightforward. You see, there is such thing as good killing… maybe(?) I, for one, am not going to consider a soldier evil for fighting in war.  The war itself may be a big, unnecessary waste of lives, resources and time, and fundamentally wrong, and the soldiers have to kill loads of people because they’re told to, but they’ve gotta do what they’ve gotta do, really. I’d be first in the line to put a medal on a man who’s managed to survive that sort of thing with his body and sanity both intact. I disagree with war, but I do not disagree with soldiers being heroes. They are brave people who put their lives at risk to do their jobs. Note the fact I haven’t said they do it for their country or for <insert whatever cause here>. Governments dictate all that. Soldiers do what they’re ordered to, without question of why. Soldiers certainly are heroes, and I am proud to respect each and every one I see. Even if they are ‘technically’ serial killers along the way, and thus evil(?) Nope, I don’t think that sounds right.

So if killing people is the most evil thing a person can do, but isn’t actually evil, what the hell is evil? Maybe it’s based in reasons? Why people do things… Well, I’m not sure on that. There’s always multiple sides to everything. What I think is right, you might think is wrong. I like to think that most people who do notable things, that others disagree on, usually have some sort of benevolent goal. For example, I might want to flatten your house so I can build an awesome new airport on it. The airport would ultimately be a great addition to the area, making jobs, business, and transport links, and generally add to the area’s development. But from your perspective, I’m just some nutcase who wants to uproot your family’s entire history, move your neighbours away from you and flatten the home you’ve lived your whole life in. You’d think I’m evil.

Well… I haven’t managed to logically define what makes an evil person, and I’ve managed to blur even what constitutes an evil act to the point where I can’t tell what’s what. Perhaps we’re all just different shades of good, and the term ‘evil’ is a mere label attached to things we don’t like, or indeed don’t fully understand.


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