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Can Evil Be Defined?


If we gave a moment's thought to the subject of evil and polled our friends and neighbors about it, we might not come to consensus on how to define it. A destructive force. The absence of moral values. Violence of any and every kind. A tug toward hatred and away from love. A good spoiled by self-centered manipulation. Anything in excess. An inescapable aspect of human life. How might we define evil if we can at all?

Evil has been a topic of conversation for as long as there have been people thinking about it. Better yet, as long as there have been people experiencing it and attempting to make sense of it. So, there are many philosophical perspectives and plenty of theories that are laced with religious ingredients too. If we think evil is real, we probably believe it is capable of being defined. Yet, there's so much subjectivity about it... is it only in our minds?

Perhaps not having some common ground on which to stand about the nature of evil is itself a manifestation of evil. Perhaps if we were of one accord on the topic, we'd be able to figure out how to unite ourselves against it. But do we even agree that evil is something to be against? Do we even possess the resources needed to combat it if indeed it is something to do battle with?

The unity of community is one of the greatest resources available to human beings. It's what's behind expressions like "United we stand; divided we fall." It's one of the strengths of organizations that are not leader-dependent but are purpose-driven. However we might try to define evil, surely one of its resources in its deep bag of tricks is divisiveness. If we're at all interested in ensuring it doesn't have a chance to set up camp in our corner of the universe, we need to strengthen the unity at the heart of our community.


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