Let us first clear the way with this miserable disclaimer just so we can talk: I am not challenging anyone’s faith, doubting anyone’s truths, nor making sport of anything sacred, eternal, or inspirational.
The movie Solomon Kane begins:
There was a time when the world was plunging into darkness and chaos
A time of witchcraft and sorcery.
A time when no one stood against evil.
Now you know me. I like to play with ideas and words and dreams. And the beginning words of this movie made me wonder.
What exactly is evil? What turns people into evil creatures?
Let’s leave out the devil for a moment. The Prince of Darkness, Antichrist, and Diabolus, too.
Evil begins as a state of mind. A state of emotional instability.
Now most of us are emotionally unstable now and then. Many of us are questionable, period. But we don’t turn evil — we don’t kill or maim or abuse. We don’t haunt or terrorize or cause irreputable damage to minds or bodies.
Babies aren’t born evil. I don’t believe there is a code in one’s DNA that says “this one is evil.”
So where does it come from?
Is it bred into someone from birth? Is it manifested by abusive parents or negative sensations or bullying at school? Is it a result of a bruised ego? A broken heart? An unbearable pain?
Hitler was an evil man. His part in World War II contributed to over 42 million deaths (and that’s a conservative estimate). Was he evil because he merely wanted to keep the species pure? Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (259–210 BCE), was responsible for the death of over a million people just because he wanted to build a wall to keep out the nomadic tribes of the north. Genghis Khan (1206–1227) was reported to have killed upwards of 40 million people building the great Mongol Empire, having reduced the world’s (then) population by as much as 11%. Did he manifest all that evil just to be the boss? An estimated 30-40 million Chinese died as a result of Mao Zedong‘s repeated, merciless attempts to create a new “Marxism–Leninism” China. Was he evil because he wanted all of his people to think alike?
Then there’s small time evil. Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. Jeffrey Dahmer. Scott Pederson. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Uvalde. The list could fill — does fill — pages in the history books.
You see what I mean?
These people were the personification of evil. Self centered, single minded, steadfast in their point of view. I do not one teeny tiny bit understand nor condone their thoughts, their actions.
But were they evil? Or merely misinformed? Misguided?
Evil is not the thing of sorcerers and demons. It is a human-bred mental illness that spreads from the host to those around them.
I often wondered why Sauron wanted to rule all the people in Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. Or Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Fiction is just as full of evil doers who want to rule and don’t mind killing half the population to get their way. Was it for the money? For the fame? For slights against their character, real or imagined?
Evil is so much more complicated than black and white statements. It doesn’t come from talismans or mirrors or crypts or buried crosses. Evil doesn’t arise from spells or enchantments or curses.
It is much more personal. Which makes it much more real.
You have to admit, evil is one of those esoteric topics that never really have an explanation or reason.
Where do you think evil comes from?