The Danger of Dehumanizing Evil

The Danger of Dehumanizing Evil

The presence of evil is an unfortunate and enduring aspect of our reality. For as long as humanity has possessed a consciousness, we have discontented ourselves by imagining what a world without evil would be like. A utopia in which every individual does not impede, oppress, or suppress the existence and happiness of another.

Such a world does not, at present, exist.

Instead, we are faced with the harsh reality of a world teeming with evil in the hearts of the very species capable of so much good. By reason of our own virtue, we cannot fathom the minds of those who murder, bribe, assault and do all manners of evil. And so we shun the human likeness of the evil-doer to maintain the rose-color world we see tinted by our own sense of goodness.

The danger of dehumanizing evil is the lost spiritual insight into the nature of humanity’s free will. It strips reality of its gradient into a simplistic black and white worldview. A world in which we are either mostly good or evil depending on our nature; not on the choices we make. When we look at those that commit evil deeds as less than human, we project the idea that to be human is to be good. And, in a much lesser way, we use our sense of goodness to distract from the smaller demons lurking in our own closets. Dehumanizing evil in others impedes on our understanding of the darker aspects of ourselves which we all must heal from in order to grow spiritually.

In contrast, humanizing evil does not in any way mean the excusing of evil or complacency towards it. It is to recognize that the evil deeds of others are a choice of their free will as human beings. What is done is not the result of them simply being nefarious, but that they choose to actualize their potential to be — to the detriment of those around them. A potential that we all have to a more or lesser degree. In understanding that evil is just as much a reality as good in the human experience, we no longer have to hide from our own darkness. That is how they fester. Instead, we can shine the light of consciousness on it and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves — and a deeper understanding of the darkness of others.

When we ignore the humanness of evil, we lose the depth and understanding of what it means to be good. Thus, we can not fully understand and transcend the darker depths of human nature, until we accept that the choice of good and evil lies at the foundation of our earthly experience. It is for this reason that evil is an enduring and unfortunate presence in this reality: humanity is too afraid to look at itself in the mirror.

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