Evil is Real. It is Not a Societal Construct.
Let me paint you a picture. To spend time with people without actually interacting with people, I headed to my local coffee chain. A chain which is popularly hated by many. That's the only hint you're getting. As usual, I was browsing the Twitterverse looking for stories on which to opine. Usually I hunt for stories begging for humorous slap boxing. If not ad hominem insults, which are not beneath me. Instead, I came across this story from The Pluralist:
This is tragic. Utterly, inexplicably tragic. This young couple believed the world was actually a wonderful place. They believed humans were inherently good. They wanted to prove to themselves -- and the world by extension -- all is not as doom and gloom as media, politicians, and dystopian sci-fi movies with "badass" action chicks portray. I added the last part.
Yes, they were naive. Yes, they were foolish. But the learning curve they slid down was too harsh a penalty lesson.
So, why did this couple believe evil wasn't real when there's evidence of evil everywhere? An entry from the victim's diary:
You read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own... By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.
The fairy-dust doused couple learned evil is not a societal construct. They learned "my truth" and "your truth" do not alter the fabric of reality. In their final moments, this happy-go-lucky couple discovered the evil they intended to disprove was more real than all of the hopeful, Pollyanna thoughts they poured into their padded world.
There is no such thing as personal reality. Just reality. A reality which is a cold-hearted, ruthless, and an often evil place.
People with basic grounding are well aware of life's natural balances. Call it yin and yang. Call it dichotomies. If we want to get philosophical about it, darkness is but the absence of light. Cold the absence of heat. Evil the absence of good. Sorrow the absence of happiness. And so on.
It is life's natural dichotomies which make it balanced, rich and, in the case of this couple, heartbreaking.
Evil is real, just as good is real. Evil doesn't care whether or not you believe in it. It doesn't care if you wish to surround yourself with positivity. Evil cares not how you decorate your echo chamber, or if you line the walls of your happiness bubble with witty affirmations. Evil doesn't care if you see people who are different than you, who hold different beliefs than yours, as "complex."
"Complex" is what some people label that which they'd rather not call evil. So they can feel superior to the "simpletons" who do. Ah hubris, evil's faithful little lackey.
Yes, some things in life are complex, only because others are simple. Complexity cannot exist without simplicity.
What killed this young couple wasn't a nuanced issue, but a simple one. This couple was killed by a group of people who hold a simple belief: that those who do not follow the same religion as theirs are infidels and must die. Yes, it's a belief which is different than beliefs held by others. Yes, it's a different value system than the general values of Western society, to which this privileged couple belonged. But the belief is a simple one, and evil at that.
There's this idea in our modern culture that we can all "make a difference." It's a lovely, lofty notion. While we should hold onto it while doing our best, it's naive and foolish to believe your singular hopes can insulate you or anyone else from real danger. Hopes and dreams are just that.
For all those free-thinking, happy, positive people, there are fascist, miserable, negative souls who seek to squash all that is good and free in this world. Pretending otherwise won't make you happier. It won't make you a better person. It will not earn you woke points at your wine-tasting parties with your other woke friends who just care and love so gosh darn much. These happy thoughts will not protect you. And again, no, these happy thoughts do not make you superior to those who think differently.
Just as good isn't a societal construct, neither is evil. You cannot make-believe evil out of this world, as evil-doers cannot make-believe good out of this world.