What’s evil? How can we recognize it, where did it come from? Is it a disease? Is it something that could affect only people with some kind of predisposition? Or, is it a bug that could touch us all? Psychology already gave an answer to all these questions. Evil is in us. In all of us. To grow anyhow, “evil” needs some circumstances to be fulfilled. Starting from the social environment: a cage or barrel, let’s say, that would promote human alienation and of course that would free whoever is involved from any kind of responsibility. Like the dungeon of Abu Ghraib for example, like Daesh, like Auschwitz … but also like a suburban high-school , a prison or any ghetto area that we are usually so ready to dismiss and forget. Any kind of pathologically violent behavior, any torture, any murder begins with one single little step. One small act against someone else. No serial killer ever started a career mass murdering dozens of strangers. It doesn’t work this way. The mob –killer that yesterday, let’s say, burned a shop or accidentally (it’s always “accidentally”) dropped a dead body into an empty pillar of an under construction highway covering everything with a pouring of concrete, years ago… was just a kid watching for the police while others were committing a crime. It was a small thing, not even a big deal. It was almost not illegal.
The social cage I am talking about can be the mob, but also the army, a political party… or, any kind of group or association (yeah, even the Grannies’ books club: those sweet old ladies can be evil too). Under the pressure of the cage, humans behave differently and some pulse are more willingly released than others (and usually not the good ones). You have to behave this way, because everybody does. The group “protects” you, the group becomes your family, your world. Even if it is a sick one, still you start to identify yourself with it, and after a while “that world” is the only one you know. The authority grants you freedom from responsibility. “Do this, you’ll never get caught” … or “Kill those… and you go to heaven where an insane number of virgins is waiting for you”. Or again: “Mass murder 6 millions of Jews, cause as gods we have the right to it”. Our History is sadly full of these kinds of statements. Religions, culture, politic are just a vest, an interchangeable coat. Behind there is an old and well –known demon: power lust (hey, here you are again, wish I could say it has been a while…).
Every social cage wants and offers power and recognition. And at the same time grants a solution – a temporary escape that is presented as permanent – from any kind of daily and personal misery: it is a tempting offer, a real marketing masterpiece. The cultural (religious, political, racial) context is the vest, the excuse or, let’s say, the Ad.
Of course reflecting about how evil works and how social cages affect and release it, doesn’t solve anybody from personal responsibilities. If you steal a book, even if you did it cause you were miserable and that group, let’s say the “Grannies’ books club” granted to you a golden pass for every library and chocolate store of the planet, you remain a thief. Nothing else. You are going to pay for that and return the book (don’t steal books… we have libraries! You don’t need a golden pass for them).
If you kill someone (for money, recognition, power, god or whatever), you are a murderer (and a twat too).
And if you let yourself lured by those racists that nowadays think that all Muslims, all strangers, all foreigners are terrorist you are no better. You are falling in another social cage. Still, a cage. Set yourself free. Take a book and read it. Write something. Go for a walk in the woods (and if you judge others by the color of their skin or their religion, or again by the Country they are coming from… stay in the woods). Bring toys to the kids of a refugees camp and play with them, teach them something. Sharing culture and knowledge is a win – win bargain: you earn something without losing anything. The best way to fight the human lust for blood and power, to win the battle against fear and greed is to work on our best pulses (yeap, we have some good instincts too), to set free the hero still living and breathing in all of us. At the end, it’s only a matter of choice.