December 18th, 2008

okay, normal, dandy, flower, happy

What Is Evil?

A few days ago, njc2007 talked about an answer than sprang, fully formed, visciously drawn, and passionlessly delivered, to her lips in response to an ethical question. I know I've answered questions before without conscious processing or formulation of the answers, but I think never in the articulate way she described. My unconscious answers tend to be either very metaphorical, wandering attempts to attach words to non-concrete thoughts, or else abrupt single-word labels that conceal way more than they reveal.

One of the latter was my response to the question, "What is evil?"

"Neglect," I answered, then promptly started to question that, trying to think it through logically, which of course doesn't work well with this kind of bone-deep knowing. On the surface, something like murder--which qualifies as an evil act in my worldview--doesn't seem very neglectful, at least not in the way that we commonly define neglect.

I've had a couple of years to pick at it, though, and the belief remains rock-solid. Evil == Neglect. I think where it comes from is my deeper belief that we, as sentient components of the universe, bear a responsibility for the choices that we make with respect to the universe and its other components. It's the mindful abrogation of that responsibility that qualifies as neglect for me.

By this definition, I commit evil a lot. And people wonder why I'm so hard on myself.

What is evil to you?