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On The Topic Of Evil Essay, Research Paper

To discuss a statement of this nature, it would be necessary to define the meaning of ‘evil’. In my opinion, any act, which inflicts harm on another individual (or group of individuals), is evil and is to be avoided at all costs. Taking that in mind, one (usually!) restricts his behaviour to acts that do not fall under the category of being ‘evil’. Following this golden rule, all is well and good – until we face a situation where ‘evil’ acts may (seem to) lead to good. It is not hard to think of such situations. For instance, the saga of capital punishment springs to mind at once. The ‘criminal’ committed a crime – he may have killed, robbed, or seriously injured someone – and so he must be punished, by taking away man´s most valued possession – life. Here is an example how evil – which is killing a human being – is employed to serve a ‘good’ cause, which is terminating evil by abolishing it at its roots. But is the use of evil in situations like these justified??? The outcome of that evil act is presumably a good one, in the sense that justice is established and a criminal pays for his crimes. A whole new light is thrown into the matter if we see the affair from the criminal’s point of view. The criminal, who may have committed the crime out of poverty, desperate need, or psychological disorder, is deprived from a chance to lead a new, honest life and seeking a better future. His humanity is taken away, and he turns into a victim of a merciless society and judicial system that often knows no mercy and shows little regard for the human side of the crime, while insisting on executing ‘justice´. The outcome of the supposedly ‘justified’ act is no longer seen as ‘good´, but as necessarily and predominantly evil. A human life is terminated – where it could have been, with a little bit of kindness and understanding, redeemed into mainstream society as a beneficial and contributing member.

Another example of where evil is employed to serve a good cause is the acts of sabotage during war. Under the cover of protecting the nation, a government may decide to destroy a number of armament factories in the conflicting nation. The airforce bombs the targeted factories- killing all the workers inside. The mission is completed successfully, and the ‘good’ end of this act is accomplished – but so is the evil one. While many lives that may have been the victims of the arms produced in these factories were saved, the lives of the workers in the factories were not spared. Their families lost an important member (probably the father) who could have been a source of income. In essence, as many lives were saved through this method, were lost.

It is plain from the two examples presented here that evil always brings about evil even though it may have been intended to serve a good cause. The old saying, that no good can come out of an evil deed, is correct- since the ‘good´ that can come out as a result of the ‘evil´ deed is often outweighed by the evil in the deed. There are often solutions other than evil. For the first example, the solution is to attempt to solve the problem that led the criminal to the crime, or life imprisonment if such a solution is unattainable. The second problem´s solution is obvious: war is not a solution, neither are acts of sabotage. The solution is peace.

Life is not a bed of roses (unfortunately!), and often, the solution is not always as easy as it sounds. We cannot control the circumstances around us, and as a result, we are often faced solely with solutions that fall under the category of ‘evil’. In these circumstances, one is placed between two evils, and so must choose the lesser evil of the two.

I shall relate an incident that happened many years ago, which involved such a dilemma. The police had just arrested a terrorist who belonged to a group that threatened to wreck havoc and chaos in the country for no reason other than that it suited their political whims and fancies. The terrorist, being a stubborn man, refused to tell the police about the locations of the bomb attacks and the human targets the group was to ‘destroy’. The officer in charge had no other choice but to choose an ‘evil’ solution to obtain the information from him – torture. The man was put through a horrible series of physical and psychological stresses to force him to speak. His family was threatened, and his children were tortured before his very eyes to pressurize him into talking. The man was dehumanized and his personal dignity (and that of his family’s) was disregarded, and the physical pain he went through was beyond imagination. Finally, under all that stress, he talked. As a result, more than 500 targeted lives were saved from a terrorist attack, and many innocent individuals were saved from harm – though the man and his family were left with a psychological scar that was to last for ever. Clearly, the 500 saved lives were worth more than a single life (that of the terrorist) and so the act is, to an extent, morally justified.

It is clear from the examples presented that as one cannot control circumstances, it is sometimes necessary to ‘swallow´ the less bitter pill – the lesser evil to prevent a greater evil from taking place. Nevertheless, the aforementioned ‘golden rule´ still stands – “No good can arise out of evil, and thus, evil is to be avoided at all costs.”


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