Brittle Skillet

Sparks of passion and items of interest.

The Expansion of Evil . . . and Good

with 2 comments


Is the world becoming a crueler more heinous place? As humans, are we becoming more violent and defensive? Is the divide between us and “the other” becoming greater? Or have we as a species made strides in the other direction?

I was having this conversation with a friend over dinner the other night, and I was shocked to learn that she is rather fearful that indeed we are becoming more barbaric and abominable. In my friend’s observations of the world through history, ancient and recent, she’s noticed a trend toward worse behavior; evil is on the rise. She’s sure that we are treating each other more brutally than ever. Have we learned nothing from the past?

While I agree with my friend that we can easily find many examples of sad scenarios and inhumanity throughout  the world around us, I was quick to point out that perhaps the world is expanding in both directions: toward evil and toward good at the same time. Also, it might be useful to remember that good and evil are often a matter of perspective.

I imagine that we are standing on a continuum that is continually moving out in two directions — directions of opposites — at any given time and in any given aspect. It’s a very basic idea that we know of one quality by distinction from its opposite. For example, there is no understanding up without the inherent understanding of down.

With this in mind, it might be useful for us to focus on the good side of the continuum. I like to believe that the good is expanding in balance with the evil; while the human race becomes more despicable, it also becomes more virtuous at once.

To help me keep my focus on the growing good, I read Ode Magazine and try to bring in something positive to every conversation I have. Some days I’m better at this than others. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a consistently balanced view of reality such that we aren’t bogged down in the gloom and doom, nor are we annoyingly Panglossian with our heads in the clouds?

Graphic by Zeusandhera

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.


Written by Julie Pierce

July 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Fascinating theory here Julie: the idea that everything must happen in balance, so we can’t have great good without great evil. We had to produce a Hitler to have a Martin Luther King? You may be right.

    But I feel your friend’s despair sometimes. Especially when it seems that the audience for “smart” media–books and good film–is constantly demanding darker and more inhuman brutality in the name of entertainment.

    We are no longer allowed elegance or wit–only brutish violence–because we are told “that’s what the audience wants.” But does it?

    Sometimes it feels to me as if we are on a fast track to devolution into a brutish, ugly “red in tooth and claw” existence

    I’d like to make the point that art needs to think about what it is bringing into existence.

    Anne R. Allen

    July 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm

  2. Yes, I fully agree. Art does need to think about what it is bringing into existence. In fact, it might be worthwhile to consider that all forms of creation be done with measured thought about what is being brought into existence and what the consequences of that creation might be. In the larger picture, it would do the world well for all of us to be considerate and thoughtful in whatever actions we choose to take.


    July 21, 2009 at 5:35 pm

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