It's the Presence of Evil, Stupid!

By Karen Hall


Okay. I am officially fed up.

I have spent the last five years watching the relentless news bombardment of Heinous Event of the Moment. Ive seen and heard way more than enough about O.J., JonBenet Ramsey, Oklahoma City, Sadaam Hussein, Bill and Monica, Columbine, and Kosovo. I have listened to all the fretting and pontificating and analyzing and speculating about the possible causes for the sorry state of the world. Im worn out with all the consternation, especially since all anyone wants to discuss is the various symptoms of a problem that has been around for as long as we have.

So, turn off CNN for a moment, folks. Im here to explain it to you.

There is evil in the world.

I hope you were sitting.

Here is what I dont understand: in the wake of Kosovo and Columbine and everything else on the list above, why is it still taboo to say the word evil? We turn on the TV and hear first-hand accounts of people chased from their homes and raped or murdered or both, in breathtaking numbers. We turn on the TV and see blood-drenched students carried out of high schools on stretchers. Why, then, do we need to invent "False Memory Syndrome" to discredit people whose claims are too distasteful? When we know how despicable people are capable of being, why will we only believe the Evil that is impossible to ignore? Evil being something that people generally commit in secret, why do we refuse to entertain the possibility that the Evil we know about is only the tip of the iceberg?

The thing about refusing to acknowledge the presence of Evil is this: it makes us ask the wrong questions. It makes us spend hours ranting about guns and Hollywood and video games and heavy metal music. It makes us believe that if we get rid of all of those things (as if we could), teenagers will stop shooting each other. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe all this violence is an outward expression of what is inside these kids? Maybe the kids with the guns aren't out of whack because they listen to Marilyn Manson. Maybe they listen to Marilyn Manson because they are out of whack. Instead of asking ourselves why heavy metal is allowed to exist, we should be asking ourselves how we have raised kids who like this stuff? How have we raised kids who crave gore and ugliness and violence and darkness?

We have done this by telling them a big lie. By trying to convince them that the world will be perfect as soon as we can get everyone to have the right outlook, eat organic vegetables and recycle. By declaring it socially unacceptable (and/or illegal) to talk about God. By telling them, in every way we can think of, that Evil does not exist. Problem is, they know better. And they rebel by doing what kids have always done to rebel: by going after the unspoken, forbidden thing.

I am sick to death of New Age goodness and light. Kosovo was not anyone's personal journey to wholeness. Neither was Columbine. God, in His infinite wisdom, may use those events to some positive end, but the events themselves were evil. They were evil because there is evil in the world. Common, everyday evil (like stealing the parking spot someone has been waiting for) and enormous, capital "E" Evil -- more than we'd be capable of, left to our own devices. There is Evil that has unseen, supernatural help.

Yes, I know it's hokey and archaic and unevolved to believe this, much less to say it out loud or in print. Too bad. It's the truth, and it's no less harmful if we refuse to look at it. In fact, it's much more harmful. A robber has an easier time getting into a house that has been left unlocked because its owner has decided that the neighborhood is safe. Evil that we refuse to acknowledge will have us for lunch. That's what's happening now,and unless we open our eyes, that's what will continue to happen.

If we are too sophisticated to believe in evil, then we are certainly too sophisticated to believe in the devil. We have evolved way past any belief in supernatural beings. (Unless, of course, they are little green humanoids with big black eyes who, for some inexplicable reason, feel the need to travel a few zillion light years to study an inferior species. Belief in those critters is not only okay, its downright trendy.) We have also "evolved" past belief in a stern Old Testament God who expects us to behave and will punish us if we dont. God is now a New Age softie who is non-judgmental and will reward us all equally, just for being our unique, wonderful selves. (Am I the only one who is bothered by a scenario in which Mother Teresa spends eternity next door to Hitler?)

So here we are at the turn of the millennium, in a world where we are"enlightened" enough to realize that we are not a fallen race, we are simply a societal work-in-progress. A few more gun control laws and well have it all straightened out. Well ban black trench coats and invent a better V Chip. Well teach boys to cry. Well let the village raise our children, and well explain to them that they shouldnt shoot each other because, well, its just not nice. Well continue to haul before the Supreme Court anyone who mutters "Original Sin" in a government building.

And the devil will continue to laugh, as the body count continues to rise.


(Blatant self promotion: My novel, "Dark Debts", makes as good of a case as I'm capable of making for the existence of Evil. It can be conveniently ordered from by clicking here.)