In the past, I have written about the concept of “evil.” I just read a new article that tries to tackle the question: Is There Such A Thing As Evil — And Is Trump It? The article starts quite sensibly with defining evil.
What is evil, actually? The dictionary definition has it as “profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.”
Trying to define “evil,” by calling it “immorality, wickedness and depravity,” is just saying evil is evil. These words are pretty much synonyms for “evil.” Perhaps evil is a matter of degree. Bad things become “evil” things when they reach a certain level of intensity. If so, can it be measured?
As I have said before, “evil” is subjective. It’s about what upsets us so much we think such a thing shouldn’t even exist in the universe we believe in. Of course, it does exist. So we need to call it something. We call it “evil.”
Throughout the centuries, religious leaders and morality pundits have defined what is good and moral and differentiated it from what is bad. We call those who do bad things “sinners” as a way to suggest these people can improve, clean up their act. We only call them “evil” when we have written them off, given up hope of redemption.
Psychiatry has tried to remove judgement from people who did bad things but calling them “sick.” Now, some psychiatrists are trying to re-insert moral judgment into the psychiatric paradigm. Of course, many people have been chomping at the bit in their eagerness to call psychopaths evil.
Donald Trump did a terrible thing tearing babies out of the arms of their mothers on the ground that the mothers “broke the law” by daring to come to this country without all the right paperwork. Empaths are mortified and Mr. Trump is going to have a hard time living this down. It’s just this kind of thing that arouses the emotions of the electorate like nothing else.
I realized in my heart, I don’t really feel empathy for those kids. Sure I know they went through something horrible. I feel sorry for them — cognitively. Is that possible? To feel cognitive pity? Nevertheless, I was shocked to learn that Melania Trump went to one of the internment camps wearing a coat that boldly proclaimed her indifference to the children’s suffering. The Trumps are many things but hardly ever dull.