Revisiting Evil

by Mike Pyatt

Mike Pyatt

Amid the El Paso and Dayton shootings, Democrat Presidential hopefuls slavishly offered another tawdry emotional appeal for stricter gun control. Like Chicago? The El Paso shooter reportedly wanted “to kill as many Mexicans as possible.” That 24 year old Dayton shooter didn’t survive despite wearing body armor. Both are white. White nationalist racists? Paid extreme anarchist? Mental Health crisis? Pundits scratch their head, scouring for an explanation that comports with motives palatable to a culture inclined to reject the possibility of absolute evil. They prefer pillorying “assault rifles” and “gaps” in background checks. Memories are short and selective. In a 1930’s Sears & Roebuck catalogue, one could purchase any of ninety-six rifles or shotguns, and it would be delivered to one’s door by the U.S. Postal Service. That continued until the late 1970’s. How many mass shootings do you recall during that 40 year span? What changed so dramatically?

President Trump and NRA are convenient prey for Democrat presidential hopefuls, attacking the president like buzzards on a three-legged dog. Should one dismiss the insatiable appetite for violence? Vicariously acting out video games? What about the unbridled access to the “dark side” of the internet and social media? What of the loss of True North on our moral compass? Why the leap to infringing on our Second Amendment? Or raising the age of purchasing a rifle to twenty-one? That wouldn’t have stopped either shooter. The average age of the previous twelve mass shooters was thirty-one. One ER doctor labeled it a “Public health crisis,” calling on Congress to act. That same Congress that won’t outlaw killing newborns at birth.

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. Idealist and humanist mislabeled WWI, “The War to end all wars.” 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, and 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.” He was forced to conclude that the unbounded optimism of Western man, reached exhaustion, facing his extinction in his own manufactured, misguided nobility.

In 1914, Wells penned a series of essays advocating the disarmament of the German Empire as the only solution to stave off further war in Europe. He wrote, “This is now a war for peace.” He lobbied for a league of nations that would usher in a one-world government. President Woodrow Wilson helped put form the League of Nations immediately after WWI. The U.S. didn’t officially join due to congressional isolationists opposition. Previously, few imagined that the entire globe could be engulfed in war and conflict. 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 future conflicts.

Most know the League of Nations suffered and failed, like the feckless 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 vacuous 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. The 2015, Paris Agreement on Climate Change, from which President Trump wisely bolted. What’s in the drinking water in Paris? In Well’s world, universally befuddled commentators concluded what ultimately was needed was a “change in the way people think.” Wells belatedly came to see that ending any conflict would require a “change in human nature.” With their misguided “faith in man’s goodness” shaken, scholars and world leaders, refused to swallow the bitter root that Man, at his core, unredeemed, is morally bankrupt. Desperate to find an alternative, rejecting an orthodox Biblical view of Man, many advocated that education would ultimately eradicate the causes of conflict. That failing narrative’s the default response in many academic circles today.

We’ve heard chilling accounts of parents caging and starving their offsprings for years. What’s that? Poor parenting skills? Discipline gone awry? Or Evil? C.S. Lewis declared, “Free will, though it makes evil possible any love or goodness of joy worth having.” We’ve erred in condemning only evil monsters like Hitler, Stalin and Amin. It’s easy for one to diminish, or ignore, the existence of evil until one’s the victim of a depraved act. William Golding’s 1954, Lord of the Flies, once required reading for high schools, exploded the myth of innocence. Hawthorne’s 1850, The Scarlet Letter, impressed upon a nation, which was predisposed to forget, the idea of original sin, and its pervasive influence.

Evil doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists much the way a wound exists on one’s body, or rust exists on a vehicle. Neither can exist on its own. There must be an agent. We’re that agent. When God created Adam good, but he was a free agent. Eyes wide open, Adam chose to disobey. Goodness always existed as an extension of God’s Holy character. Not evil. It entered with Satan’s rebellion and invaded our physical universe. That’s our ball and chain to this day. The fig leaf of man’s pretensions to rectitude and nobility are stripped away; as evil testifies otherwise. Camus was wrong; evil’s root isn’t ignorance-it’s sin.

In the face of absolute evil, we’re offered illusionary feel-good maneuvers to find less offensive terms than absolute evil. What’s next? Kim Jong Un having “a change of heart.” Will he launch a “Love Thy Neighbor Foundation” in Pyongyang, instead of a missile? When absolute evil rears its ugly head we must reject another socially acceptable term. To his credit, El Paso’s Mayor called the shooter “pure evil.” Humanistic romanticism dismisses the one element that makes such chaotic carnage possible: Man’s Fallen nature and propensity for absolute evil. Another FBI profile, domestic counter-terrorism expert, or focus group, won’t stop the onslaught of evil. The ancients warned, “Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil.” What do you think?

Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s roderickstj@yahoo.com

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