The Great Evil
2016 has left a lot of political surprises, confused pundits and inflated rhetoric.
That journalists or politicians should engage in the rhetoric and try out punchy
messages is nothing new.
It is also nothing new that regular people recycle the punchy messages and the portentous rhetoric. But I’ve been surprised by just how much of that I have seen this year.
I have started asking simple questions about some of the statements I hear in
person. Stuff like “what do you mean by populism?”, or “do you truly believe
everyone who didn’t vote like you is a bigot?”
I haven’t yet heard any good responses to this type of question.
This use of unnecessarily big words, I’m not sure where it comes from, but it
immediately raises suspicions in me that the person talking has no clue what
People who know what they’re talking about use clear reasoning. They don’t need to go for the Stalin or Fidel or Hitler comparisons, the invocations of hate or pure evil.
This is the crux of the matter, I think. Individuals being portrayed as “evil”, just like that. This would have been called fear mongering in other times, but recently, fear mongering has lost its stigma, I suppose all in the name of a good cause. The eternal recurrence of that most toxic of tropes, that the ends justify the means.
I don’t really believe in the great evil. I don’t buy the sinister genius plotting the demise of the world while stroking a cat. What I do see, what I do believe, is the accumulation of small scale acts of incompetence or cowardice or greed, with no ulterior purpose.
When I’ve seen repugnant behavior, it has usually come from people who felt betrayed, or scared, or unfairly treated, or disrespected, and who told themselves that their actions were simply to take what was fairly owed to them, and that any damage to others was unfortunate, but not really their responsibility. “This is the way of the world.”
Of course, there are real evils. Things like poverty or war or unhappiness. And some of those evils are inflicted by some people on some other people. But I wonder how many of those were started by someone who chose to do damage for no particular reason.
It would be good to see, from the press, from public figures, from average
people, more analysis to back up their claims. Too often I see muddled thought
from people who portray themselves as educated or reasonable, who at any rate
should know better.
I have long been suspicious of any who describe themselves as moderate, or educated, or reasonable, or realistic, or mature; but that is, possibly, a different story.
I’m coming to this realization rather late, but many seem to think we live in a Tolkien world of good versus evil. And I think this is due to mental laziness rather than to intrinsic Manichaeism.