Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!
So inspired by another post on Lorna’s blog, and a question in a seminar from my chair, “What is evil?”
I grew up with evil being associated with disobedience. It’s a convenient definition, and it works for a lot of situations. The problem is, it’s rife for exploitation.
If evil is disobedience, whether to human or Divine law, then what is disobedience, or obedience, for that matter? In abusive situations, the notion of obedience gets perverted and twisted into a shadow of what it was. The abuser seeks to hold absolute control and power over the abused, and uses this “obedience” as a chain.
But obedience isn’t blind, and it doesn’t ever contradict free will. Over and over again in the Rule of St. Benedict, obedience is equated with the ability–lovingly–to listen to another person. It’s also a mutual obedience required from everyone to everyone: from the newbie novices to the people who’ve lived an entire lifetime in that enclosure. The abusive perversion of obedience is only in one direction, and only has the best interests of the abuser at heart. St. Benedict’s obedience has the other’s best interests in the foreground.
So what is evil? Evil is disobedience, where one knowingly and willingly asserts power over another, in order to subjugate, humiliate, and denigrate that person. I have a hard time believing in some sort of evil entity, because the temptation to do evil is so seductive and enticing, especially if it’s been done to you.