“To write is a relief from life’s problems. It is a way in which you revenge yourself. In art, the writer achieves utopia. But any attempt to achieve social utopia is bound to catastrophe. If you want a society of saints, the result is hell, repression, totalitarianism, and persecution.”–Mario Vargas Llosa
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard or read the statement, “Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.” Aside from blatant sociopaths and people suffering the delusions of hubris, bad situations and evil come about through ignorance and stupidity, not hatred or malice.
It can also be argued that evil results when people try to control everyone else. The controllers forget that all of us living beings exist at the mercy of the mysterious, unpredictable Universe. Misguided proselytizing of whatever ideologies and religions is at the heart of many of our most deadly problems.
The process of “cleansing” society of who they believe are evil beings, becomes cruel and monstrous from the beginnings of their campaigns and crusades. We need only remember history–the Holocaust was enabled, in part, by “good” people who just went along to believe the fascistic propaganda of the Nazis. The Holy Inquisition was perpetrated by people who sincerely believed they were doing good works. In the process, millions of people suffered persecution at the hands of “good people” simply for being who they were.
On the whole, humans are more good than evil, however in our species’ innate naiveté and intent to “do good”, as much harm comes about as happens through malevolence. The Hitlers and Stalins of our world convinced “good people” about their mission to rid the world of certain “others”. The citizens largely went along in order to get along. By their inaction, the “good people” became confederates of the tyrants.
Normal, everyday folks go along with unwholesome, dangerous schemes even when there are no physical or psychic threats to them. Even when doubts arise in the citizenry and concerns are voiced, all it takes is a convincing statement by the leaders to keep the population in obedience. This orchestrated indifference further enables the scheme. When people are convinced that certain “others” present a threat to national viability or as threats to the “moral health” of society, it is easier for “good” people to believe that the persecuted group “deserves” what happens to them.
Regardless of the levels of social freedom of thought and belief, even the best democratic societies cannot always resist going along with or ignoring the inhumane treatment and brutality perpetrated by strident, cruel authoritarian leaders. People obey and do as we are instructed to do. Do you remember your school class members’ apathy in not wanting to be noticed when the teacher drilled the kids about a difficult subject? This same propensity occurs en masse when powerful social institutions are in command of a social group or a nation.
In order for us to resist popular efforts to discriminate against and harm particular groups and individuals it is important to envision the big picture. How do even our own small actions and inactions contribute to the overall process of persecution? We must keep true to ethical standards and see everyone as deserving of equal, fair, and empathetic treatment, even those who seem eccentric.
By understanding the beauty of diversity on this planet, we understand the similarities of all peoples. Mindfulness of compassion and empathy towards all living beings go a long way towards ending persecution.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actress, singer, and media personality, Michelle Visage. “‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ is very little about boys who dress up in girls’ clothing. It’s very much about grit, integrity, heart, power of perseverance, and the power of love. It’s also opening a dialogue up about the persecution and the marginalization of trans-people, of queer people, of gender non-binary and gender fluid people.”