GMP commenter ‘The Wet One’ responds to Tom Matlack’s post ‘What Does Male Evil Look Like?’
First of all, is evil gendered? Is there such a thing as “male evil”? I have a problem with that idea. Yeah males do more evil, but it seems to me that males do more of everything, other than mothering, that any attention is paid to. However, evil is rather more widespread than that and if 1/2 the human race stood up in opposition, there is almost no way that things like the Holocaust could have been perpetrated by men.
As for the “Some men just want to watch the world burn,” I can sympathize with that and have wondedered about it many times in my days. I have judged the world and found it wanting. I have long considered the question, “If I had the power, would I destroy the world?” I have since found that the question is irrelevant because in the long run, the world of humans will pass away and die. I still stand by my judgment on humanity all the same. Plus, the fact is fire, explosions, destruction and so forth are pretty frickin’ awesome! Could you imagine a supernova in the sky so bright that it lights up the night sky? Now imagine the worlds around that supernova which have been totally and utterly blasted away. In the energetic death of a solar system, a beautiful thing is created. Let there be light.
As for the morality of war and the evils perpetrated therein, the moral weight lies with the leaders. Soldiers are mere cogs in the wheel. Due to the nature of war and its uncertainty, collateral damage and friendly fire are inevitable. There is no evil, per se, in this. The evil lies in the reason for unleashing war. Iraq is near, but consider WWII. WWII wasn’t entirely a good war, but it’s a lot more “good” than most. Hitler et. al. were most certainly evil and needed to be stopped. However, consider that the Allies couldn’t be bothered to help the Jews long before the war when Hitler’s evil was well known. Such is the morality of states.
As far as the morality of war, consider this (you liberal pro Obama types), Obama has murdered U.S. citizens. He has called for their deaths and had them killed without the due process of law. Was this evil? It most certainly was. No matter how bad a bad guy he ordered killed, none of those bad guys have the power of the state. States have killed and will kill more people (rightly or wrongly) than anything else on earth. Obama unleashed the Leviathan in a manner that it ought not be unleashed and contrary to the rule of law. As a result, we are all in greater peril than we were before. His act was unquestionably an evil one. Now, does anyone care? Nope, not a peep. Who’s responsible for that? All I can say is thank god I don’t have to vote for the man or the other idiot who’s running against him.
As for your son [who is applying to miltary school] Tom, I would worry less about him being put in harm’s way and worry about him becoming a tool of evil. I’m lucky to live in a small state with relatively little power. As such, we don’t go around sticking our nose into other people’s business and killing other people for our national interests. The U.S., as a great power, does not have that luxury. The evil committed by the U.S. military are many and many of its actions are done for reasons that have nothing to do with “good” as it is commonly understood. I once wanted to join the military too at age 16, I decided that it would be wiser not to be subject to the whims of the men in office when they have, time and time again, shown themselves to have something other than “good” in mind. Of course, as leaders of countries, “good” is not their highest priority, or even a priority. Interests are. Soldiers aren’t involved in that decision though. They do as they are told, which is their duty.
I suggest that your son learn more about the politics behind wars. Have him learn the reasons behind every U.S. war in the 20th century (from both sides, not just the American point of view). Then have him decide if he can say “My country right or wrong” or whether he will take a more nuanced approach to joining the military. I have no disrespect for soldiers. Theirs is an honourable profession. However, they are so often ill used by their masters, that I could not be a soldier in good conscience. Others will die by the very nature of my profession. When I know that I will be so poorly used in giving my service, I, for my part, had to decline serving in uniform.
As for the whole good vs. evil thing, or your last paragraph, just be glad that the whole problem will one day go away. With the end of humanity, evil, more likely than not, goes away. Good probably does too. I suspect that much of the “good” and “evil” that we see in the world is more a product of our minds than a concrete reality of substantive meaning. Some of the evils are mere products of the world we live in and the fact of our material being (rather like a wolf eating a deer. Wolf’s gotta eat and it doesn’t eat grass. People need liebensraum to live). Other aspects of evil I’m not so sure. While it’s always been the case that land was pretty important for people to live and worth fighting over, it’s not clear to me that it was necessary in the fighting to be a cruel and sadistic bastard when committing genocide on your neighbours. Just slit their throats and burn their corpses. No need to inflict terror, cruelty and agony into the mess. See the difference? See the irrelevance of morality? For my part, I do. Thus the world can burn for all I care. It was f**ked from the word go.
photo by stewdean / flickr