He hath heart who knoweth fear but vanquisheth it; who seeth the abyss, but with pride. He who seeth the abyss but with eagle’s eyes, — he who with eagle’s talons graspeth the abyss: he hath courage. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
I always hear people talking about some horror they witnessed on the news. “I can’t believe people can do that. People are so evil. The world is such a terrible place.”
My response is usually a shrug accompanied by, “Yup. People can do some really bad things.”
The other people though really seem to internalize all of it, as if the local news proves to them that they should be afraid to walk outdoors for fear of being raped, kidnapped or shot. They won’t let their kids go out to play. I’ve heard some tell me they lay in bed at night thinking of some story that they heard on the news. Maybe someone put their baby in an oven or something. It convinces them that they’re living in a Stephen King novel.
I tell them that I don’t think we’re meant to know every evil that occurs in every dark corner of the world, just as 24 hr news has allowed us to do. I tell them, walk out on your porch right now, and tell me how much evil you see? Do they know someone who was murdered? Do they know someone who knows someone who was murdered? But how can we live in such a world? With a smile, I say. With strength and vigor nonetheless….
Horror stories on TV rarely do much for me or to me. I feel that as a former police officer, I have every right to be cynical and believe that the world is evil, that we should be afraid at all times.
But I don’t believe that.
I saw all kinds of evil as a cop, but I recognized that the chances of it happening to me or someone I knew were small. That criminals themselves composed a large portion of crime’s victims, because they hung out with other criminals. That the news scours the Earth for the very worst amongst us.
And indeed, if an evil so great were to rise amongst us, I don’t think we’d recognize it, because we’d be part of it. As in the book Eichmann in Jerusalem, when evil becomes banal–normalized–things get bad. From outside the fishbowl, the madness is apparent, but from within, slaughter is perfectly acceptable.
I take each moment at a time, each place for what it is. Concentrate too much on evils thousands of miles away and you will miss all of the good within your arms reach. You’ll become bitter, afraid. The most evil men in history were those that were very afraid.
With full knowledge of evil’s existence and potential, I awake each day and look forward to new challenges. I can see good everywhere, but am not afraid to speak against evil. Many who speak of the evilness of man (and he is, compared to God) are afraid to call true evil, evil. They’re afraid they may hurt someone’s feelings. If only these people could see how the world is waiting for a strong, wise leader. Over and over I see that wisdom mixed with justice and strength produce much more than mere populism.
This is the type of man that Nietzsche spoke of, The Ubermensch. A man who controls himself regardless of the world around him. A person who can do what is right regardless of outside circumstances. A man who smiles at pain and chaos and indeed finds them both as a fuel for his burning, creative energies. I have found within myself, an ability to take the worst many people can offer me, and smile, blunt their sadism with confidence and competence. No man can steal my happiness, no evil.
Now I know some of my Christian brethren don’t like me to mix it up with Nietzsche, but as CS Lewis stated, just because a religion is not Christian, it does not mean it cannot contain a nugget of truth. If we must spin it with Christianity, Soren Kierkagard had another name for the Overman–The knight of faith. A person who can meet all obstacles with grace, with utter confidence.
Everyone should refuse to live in fear. Even when we fail, we learn. There is too much around us that we can enjoy, too much we have to give others. Meet life with courage. Do not focus on the evil of the world. Christ overcame the world, and with His help, you can too.