The Failure to Stand Up to Evil Leads to Insanity, Poverty and the Loss of All Our Rights
by George Washington
Preface: I am using the word “evil” in its secular sense in this essay, as in a horrible, destructive act … religion is beyond the scope of this essay.
When someone fails to stand up to a heinous act, that leads to a whole chain of events.
It Enables More Destructive Acts
Initially, by failing to stand up to the bad act, we are enabling the person who committed it to do bigger and worse things in the future.
Army psychiatrist and Christian philosopher M. Scott Peck wrote extensively on evil in People of the Lie (since Peck was a psychiatrist and an empirical researcher, his investigation of the dynamics of those who commit heinous acts and the subsequent attempts to cover them up is very interesting, even for atheists who will disregard all religious overtones). As Peck wrote:
It is necessary that we first draw the distinction between evil and ordinary sin. It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people…The central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.
And a longer passage:
We lie only when we are attempting to cover up something we know to be illicit. Some rudimentary form of conscience must precede the act of lying. There is no need to hide unless we first feel that something needs to be hidden. We come now to a sort of paradox. Evil people feel themselves to be perfect. At the same time, however, they have an unacknowledged sense of their own evil nature. Indeed, it is this very sense from which they are frantically trying to flee. The essential component of evil is not the absence of a sense of sin or imperfection but the unwillingness to tolerate that sense. At once and the same time, the evil are aware of their evil and desperately trying to avoid the awareness. Rather than blissfully lacking a sense of morality like the psychopath, they are continually engaged in sweeping the evidence of their evil under the rug of their own consciousness (or attempting to redefine their evil as good). The problem is not a defect of conscience, but the effort to deny the conscience its due. We become evil by attempting to hide from ourselves. The wickedness of the evil is not committed directly, but indirectly as a part of this cover-up process. Evil originates not in the absence of guilt but in the effort to escape it. Since they will do almost anything to avoid the particular pain that comes from self-examination, under ordinary circumstances, the evil are the last people who would ever come to psychotherapy. The evil hate the light – the light of goodness that shows them up, the light of scrutiny that exposes them, the light of the truth that penetrates their deception. P