Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Tell me, what is evil?

I will tell you what it is to me: evil is the base spirit acting unwitnessed: unwitnessed by its own conscience, by society and by God.

Our work as sentient beings is to witness. It is what defines sentience, is it not? The ability not just to see, but to WITNESS. What held societies to the straight and narrow for thousands of years was the belief in a witnessing all -seeing God. Just the belief in the existence of an all-seeing eye, more than any divine retribution. An eye that could see us, make us SEE ourselves as we are, and Mankind fears and loves nothing quite as much as a mirror.

What we fashionably consider a reversal to the basest primitive brutality is in fact the newest development in human social evolution: individuality. Not so long ago, to think or act as an individual - contrary to the benefit of the community - was the fastest way to die, to extinguish your genetic line. Only in the last hundred years has individuality become a survival trait.

We moved from the small individual groups that guaranteed the best odds on survival to the urban social structure where individuality is at a premium. The Industrial Revolution birthed the individuality of modern man, and brought about the demise of the family/tribe. We are in the midst of the ME generation, a society suddenly freed of "witnesses".

People are born and raised raised in crowds, our mobility means we can cross the world and restart our lives in the midst of strangers. We can take on new faces, new histories. We are unwitnessed as human beings, and so stripped of responsibility. We divest ourselves of history. We strip ourselves of conscience. We are not witnessed, and we bear no witness.

And so modern man is anonymous.
Anonymous people can practise any act, do any evil. They move invisibly in the world, believing all eyes are blind and so they are not accountable for invisible acts. Moving in the moral dark, they believe themselves unwitnessed, but there is one witness no-one can blind: themselves.

There has never been in the entire history of mankind an era like the last hundred years. Dickens knew. He called it "The best of times, the worse of times"

Charles Dickens was the witness to the rise of the modern era in all its sordid glory: urban squalor, misery, poverty as humanity had never known before; and the ultimate evil: indifference. He denounced it again and again. The hypocrisy, the cruelty, and above all, the indifference.

Tell me, what is indifference but a refusal to witness?
Unwitnessed acts demand no action, no redress, isn't that so?
So there is a new social contract: close your eyes to my evil, I will close my eyes to yours.
We are faced with a social structure that does NOT work, with a reproductive strategy that is proving 
disastrous, and yet, in the very midst of this potential disaster is our greatest hope.

Even as the old contract is voided, still some luminous souls are stepping up, taking responsibility, giving love, gifting us with hope, witnessing.  We Humans are at our very best when the night is darkest, so we light candles of laughter and love and poetry, and in that fitful flickering we WITNESS random acts of love and kindness.

Here is how we fight the banal, insidious evil: we see, we witness; and not just the act, we must see the actors. There must be no invisible people in our worlds.

There are other kinds of evil that revel in witnesses, but that is something else, and God be thanked, much less common.

So don't tell me there is nothing you can do to change the world, because you see, you don't have to DO anything. All you have to do is open your eyes, see the people around you, bear witness to their lives. Love them, and let them love you. Step out of the dark. Turn on the light.


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