Joy and Evil

Festive decorations are part of human heritage, regardless of whether the universe pays attention.
  • December is our official season of joy, contradicted by the simultaneous existence of global evil. Religions proclaim spiritual causes,  stoics shrug,  humanists attempt to mitigate its manifestation.  Yet evil remains, but there is much joy.
  • Our technology rests on scientific outlook _ science merely studies objects and their interrelations.  There is no moral judgement.  A rock falls to earth, a child dies of viral infection _ infinite causes and effects, each interesting, a few useful.  Security and material abundance have resulted.
  • Morality, on the other hand, is not so simple.  It addresses people and consciousness as other than objects.  Ethics cannot easily resolve definitions _ what is meant by “good” or “responsible,” for instance.  Logic quickly becomes useless.  Faith remains intractably divided _ rarely shared exactly between individuals and tribes.  Everything becomes relative _ it is ok to kill an enemy soldier, but not an angry neighbor.
  • We should celebrate this season of joy.  Perhaps it is acceptable for a while to gloss over evil.  Temporarily, simply appreciate the gift of being.  Joy.
Early ice on the pond, as the rest of the world begins to boil.
  • Humans are intensively social creatures.  Individuals interact well with each other, especially in a non-threatening situation.  Unfortunately, we also easily form tribes composed of those like us.
  • I believed a solution would be to incorporate all humans into one tribe.  Sharpest evil appeared when one tribe dehumanized another.  I naively assumed that more education and affluence would incorporate a benign inclusive tribal mythology.
  • Evil people _ as judged by what is done rather than what is said _ have decided to shrink tribes to those few who agree with them on all morality.  To gain power they demonize differences and ignore similarities.  Evil concentrates in fanatics , lunatics, and amoral egotists who rejoice in driving us apart.


Brown, dry, dying, short days, frigid nights, true winter yet to come _ bleak and hopeless seems mid-December.

What can I do, as an individual?  What should I do?  I have no power, and do not ever expect to have any.  To be more honest, I never wanted any.  I am no more certain of my own morality than that of anyone else.  I live life mostly joyfully, and I believe that is no small achievement.

I try to interject what I consider calming sanity into discussions.  I find that there is basic agreement between individuals I meet on what is good and what is bad.  Only those who switch tribal allegiance into extreme cults lose my sympathy.  My reaction is to treat those folks as lost, and walk away without provocation.  Is that wrong?

For all that, much evil can and should be corrected over time.  I retain faith that our society can once again overcome the evil voices among us and together form a better world.

In the meantime, I take joy in every moment, and try to help others do the same.




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