Reconciling Good and Evil

My fellow journalists and I are in a somewhat shocked state tonight after we were reluctantly required to report the story of a former co-worker and long-time friend who stands accused of multiple counts of lewd molestation of minor children.

Normally when we report on events such as these, the accused involved are strangers, and as such are easy to dismiss as monsters and perverts. We almost universally regard child molesters as one-dimentional sub humans. This dismissal protects us by creating distance and alienation. The less they are like us, the less likely evil is among us.

The man accused in this case is not a stranger, and in our interaction with him, he was not an alien monster. He was a friend, who we repeatedly featured in our newspaper and magazine. I was always glad to see him, and he was glad to see me. He was intelligent and well-spoken. I guess that’s what nags at me tonight. In my life, he was a good man. How can such obviously wrong acts come from such an apparently good man, a man who is without any doubt able to distinguish good from evil?

I told my friend Ann, who is also a journalist, about it, and she said she couldn’t believe it. Later she texted me, “In total shock”, “Watched channel 9 news, still in shock” and “Just can’t believe it.”

Am I wrong to believe that humans are sentient, and as such can easily chose right from wrong? Am I being naive? Or is there really in all of us what my friend David calls “the dark fucker”? Are we all just one terrible temptation away from evil?

I don’t know if the accusations against this man are valid. Hopefully the justice system will lay bare the truth. But tonight, we are in shock.

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2 Comments

  1. “Are we all just one terrible temptation away from evil?”

    Some would say so. I would argue that evil usually begins with minor, excusable actions that eventually build until the conscience is changed over time.

    A pastor friend of mine once said the best way to beat temptation is to avoid it by conscious decisions and life habits that make temptation less likely.

    I’m sorry to hear about the charges leveled against someone you knew and worked with. As you said, we’ll now have to trust the justice system to bare the truth.

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  2. People are all born with a natural tendency toward evil. Think about it. The first thing a child learns is No! A child instinctively migrates toward doing the wrong thing and has to be taught by his parents to learn good behavior. That is human nature. If a person is in an environment where he isn’t taught how to be good, he generally turns out to to bad things. Some people are able to learn how to be good on their own, but it’s difficult. No one has to be taught how to be bad. It’s in us from the beginning of our lives. Choosing to be bad or good is still a personal decision because we all know right from wrong, which means we are all accountable for the bad choices we make, even when we were never taught how to be good. It is not an excuse to do bad things. Being bad is easy. Being good takes discipline. Who among us does not have evil thoughts? Thankfully most of us choose to dismiss them and do the right thing most of the time. Your friend had a weakness toward molesting children even though he knew it was wrong. The more he did it, the more desensitized he became to his own perverted behavior. I’m sure when he first started doing it, he cringed and it most likely sickened him. But as he continued the behavior, the more natural it became to him and the more convinced he became that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing. It doesn’t mean that your friend is totally evil. It only means that he has a perverted weakness that he acted upon. Child molesters must never be allowed to be around children because the compulsion to molest them is overpowering. But I’m sure that the man you knew, was all of the good things you knew him to be as well. He does need to be held accountable for his actions. He also deserves to be forgiven. If you are comfortable in maintaining your friendship with him, there is nothing wrong with that. He has a serious problem and he needs to face it and now he will be forced to do that. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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