Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Forces of Evil Must Be Opposed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Forces of Evil Must Be Opposed

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton accurately condemned those who killed innocent men, women and children in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building as "evil cowards." In doing so, he invoked a word - evil - that has suffered in recent years from lack of use.

When Ronald Reagan applied the word to the Soviet Union - "evil empire," he called it - sophisticated commentators were shocked that a word they regarded as crude was employed by a national leader.

But what other explanation satisfactorily describes such a despicable act or a soul-destroying government that causes men and women to sob in grief and others to declare their lives drained of meaning and joy?

Great writers have grappled with the concept of evil - Shakespeare's "the evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones" - and popular culture explains it with such notions such as "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts and minds of men?" and such movie symbols as Darth Vader.

Acknowledging the existence of evil - not just evil people but evil itself - is a prerequisite to understanding and controlling it. Denying that evil exists, and that it is a proper metaphor for the worst kind of behavior, ensures that evil will prosper.

The dictionary is of some help. It defines evil as "morally reprehensible; sinful, wicked; arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct."

This presumes a standard of good conduct against which evil may be measured. It also indicates that evil begins in a heart and works outward and is not created by one's circumstances or environment. Such a notion contradicts most modern teaching and philosophy.

Evil is as old (older, really) as the second chapter of Genesis where God instructs Adam, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die. …

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