I often think the, “why can’t we all just get along?” simply does not account for the brokenness in the human soul or psyche. Under the right circumstances a man or woman is capable of inflicting, perpetuating or allowing the suffering of others.
Lying is an example of this, we distort the truth to make our position look more favorable at work, in a relationship, among friends, or in the court of law or public opinion. We just don’t get along because we favor our family, friends, clans, identity groups, and our opinions and beliefs over others. We act in a way to preserve our interests in this extended circle of people.
“Naive, harmless people usually guide their perceptions and actions with a few simple axioms; people are basically good; no one really wants to hurt anyone else; the threat (and, certainly, the use) of force, physical or otherwise, is wrong. These axioms collapse, or worse, in the presence of individuals who are genuinely malevolent.”
– Jordan Peterson. 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos
I have done an incredible volume of study in the various theological reasons for pacifism. I am very sympathetic to pacifism. I would like to think I could be a good pacifist. I really would like to be one. However, there is a problem, I know I have this great potential for a violent, retaliatory, punitive, and destructive anger in my heart for those who would harm my family, or take away my rights to be left alone.
I hate war. It is butchery, sanctioned mass murder held up as honorable by our nation as the stuff heroes are made from. Because our side is always the “just” side, the side God is on. The other side are the murderers.
Yet, I live with this conundrum, knowing that there are evil people, who value no life, no freedom, no law, no justice, no property right, and they are hell bent on advancing their ideology, taking land and resources, ousting democratically elected governments, murdering opponents, beheading their determined enemies, and creating laws to punish opposition. Truly malevolent men and women exist. They seek no dialogue, the word compromise does not register with their neurons, they are Hell bent on winning.
What do we do with such evil? How do you stop those people who will not stop themselves?
It seems the only way to stop them is to kill them, or hurt them enough that they wish they had been killed.
Is that evil for evil?
Jordan brings up something interesting point here.
A profound example of that can be found in the perceptibility of new soldiers to post-traumatic stress disorder, which often occurs because of something they watch themselves doing, rather than because of something that has happened to them. They react like the monsters they can truly be in extreme battlefield conditions, and the revelation of that capacity undoes their world. And no wonder. Perhaps they assume that all of history’s terrible perpetrators were people totally unlike themselves. Perhaps they were never able to see within themselves the capacity for oppression and bullying…
The terribly shocking day we are confronted with the evil bitch we can be in war, business, marriage, or relationships. PTSD
I am leery of people who think malevolent people are few, or convinced they could not be one too. I am cautious of people who think that their potential, or that of their group, is somehow less prone to selfishness and that displays of favoritism for their own are less frequent than the average.
For example, the battle between the “oppressed” and the “oppressors” today. Between the “Democratic Socialist” and the “Democratic Capitalist” ideologies. Putting the word Democratic in front of the word socialist does not change socialist ideology in any manner. We truly believe that we are better than other humans. That our power will not be used to oppress people.
Capitalism is not my love. I resent being bound to the man. But it is a better evil, for it acknowledges human malevolence. So the less power any one group has, government included, the better. Power corrupts EVERYONE to some degree, at some point.
The good news is that once we realize our probable potential to be the evil person we despise and criticize the most, then we might have more humility and put in safeguards against our very selves, against people like us, and be far less likely to use laws, police, or whatever to impose our ideology, for we know full well we could be wrong, limited in our understanding, and an authoritarian monster too. And, maybe, we can’t even reliably evaluate how we place on that scale.
When the wakening occurs – when once naive people recognized in themselves the seeds of evil and monstrosity, and see themselves as dangerous (at least potentially) their fear decreases. They develop more self-respect. Then, perhaps they begin to resist oppression. – Jordan Peterson