by Mike Pyatt
At the conclusion of WWI, there was a naive movement, that world powers must do whatever it takes to remove the causes for war and conflict, from the earth. Many idealist and humanist mislabeled WWI, “The War to end all wars.” As one of the fathers of science fiction, British writer, historian, and social gadfly, H.G. Wells was considered a prophet by his humanist contemporaries, though he was known primarily for his novels, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and the Time Machine. He predicted some of the technological advances of the 20th Century. He also wrote about the evils of war, advocating a naive pacifist approach. When war descended upon Europe, he concluded that the German buildup, since the nation’s 1871 unification, was driven by a corrupt industrial and political system, that needed to be eradicated. The unbounded optimism of Western man reached exhaustion, facing his extinction in his own manufactured nobility.
In 1914, he wrote a series of essays advocating the disarmament of the German Empire as the only solution to stave off further war in Europe. Wells wrote, “This is now a war for peace.” He argued for a league of nations that would usher in a one world government. President Woodrow Wilson helped put together the League of Nations immediately after WWI. Previously few had imagined that the entire globe could be engulfed in war and conflict. Many leaders were optimistic that, in the insanity of the apparent evil, humanity would come to its senses, and purge the utter brutality of war and recognize the futility of such a future conflict.
The League of Nations suffered and failed, as has the United Nations, to prevent further conflict in the 20th Century and beyond. After the 1919, Versailles Paris Peace Conference, it was apparent that slogans and words were wholly insufficient. Nevertheless, that didn’t halt the proclivity “to meet in Paris,” after WWII in 1947, and in 1973, Paris Peace Accords, ending our involvement in Viet Nam. What was in the drinking water in Paris?
It was more than a clash of cultures. Some commentators said what ultimately was needed was a “change in the way people think?” Wells belatedly came to see that ending war and conflict would require a “change in human nature.” With “faith in man’s goodness” shaken, scholars and world leaders, still wouldn’t swallow the bitter root that man, at his core, unredeemed, is morally bankrupt. Rejecting an orthodox biblical view of man, many desperately advocated that education would ultimately eradicate the causes of conflict. 19th Century philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that the existence of evil demonstrates that God is either not omnipotent, or not loving, or good. A view commonly promoted by contemporary scoffers.
Many posit there’s only individual evil and natural evil. The former, they maintain, is a series of events not attributable to humans, like a tornado or earthquake. The latter is attributed to some consequence of human activity, a stabbing or unthinkable acts, such as serial killer, John Wayne Gacy Jr., who tortured and murdered at least thirty-three teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. And other serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy or Richard Ramirez. Is it a matter of culture, parental guidance, educational opportunity, or genetic disposition? Had someone been kinder to these murderers, would they’ve turned out differently? A change of environment?
Recently a father beat his eight year old child to death for failing to memorize a school lesson. We’ve heard chilling accounts of parents caging their offspring in a closet for years for punishment, leaving them dead or emaciated skeletons. What is that? Poor parenting skills? Discipline gone awry? Or evil incarnate? C.S. Lewis declared, “Free will, though it makes evil possible is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” Do we err in condemning only evil monsters like Hitler, Stalin and Amin. How does one explain when an Alabama mother placed her fourteen month old baby in an oven and broiled her in 2002. Thanks to her father, Ashley Wright survived twenty-eight surgeries and attends high school at age fifteen. The mother claimed, “Voices told her to do it.” Evil incarnate.
Physicians and mothers since 1973, jointly slaughtered nearly sixty million unborn, in a “declared war” on the most vulnerable. Generations have yawned indifferently at those staggering numbers. They label it “women’s health.” It is evil. It’s easy for one to diminish, or ignore, the existence of evil until one’s a victim of someone’s depraved act. Pointing our long bony finger at others, claiming that they’re worse than we, deflecting, and assuaging our own guilt. We all live east of Eden. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, exploded the myth of human innocence. Under the wrong provocation, where might one be?
Webster defines evil,”morally bad or wrong; wicked; depraved; anything that causes harm, pain, misery; disaster; the Evil One; the Devil; Satan.” Evil doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists much the same way a wound exists on one’s body, or as rusts exists on a vehicle. Neither can exist on its own. There must be an agent. We’re that agent. When God created Adam, He created him good, but Adam was a free agent. Eyes wide open, he chose to disobey. Had we been there-we would’ve too, regardless how vociferously one repudiates it. Goodness has always existed as an extension of God’s Holy character. Not so with evil. It entered with Satan’s rebellion, and invaded our physical universe, and man’s Fall. The “sludge of the Fall” is our ball and chain to this day. The fig leaves of man’s pretensions to uprightness and nobility are torn away as evil testifies otherwise.
Two millennia ago, Jesus offered comfort, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” There’s no expiration date. He acknowledged evil’s presence, and the antidote. Will Kim Jong Un have a change of heart? What do you think
Mike Pyatt’s a resident of Natrona County. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org