Understanding evil is relatively easy for religious people. In the comical words of an old American TV character (Sammy Davis Junior??), “The devil made me do it.” Yes, blame it all on satan or shaitan. Those of us who prefer less mythical explanations can’t fall back on that, and I have no magical sociological answers up my sleeve. I’ve been thinking about the two most evil acts I heard of in 2015 and it occurs to me one can at least categorize them as “public” and “private”; or those evils deliberately perpetrated by a group of people as a matter of policy as opposed to one solitary individual. Before you read on be warned both examples are sickening, they might give you nightmares and they might not necessarily even be true.
My example of a deed enacted by a group of people was told me by a Kurdish friend in London. In Islamic State controlled territory in his homeland a mother went to the prison gates to ask if they had her son inside. They said “Sure. Just wait while we give him a while to smarten up and we’ll bring him out to you. Now, why don’t you sit down and have a meal while you’re waiting?” The mother gratefully agreed and eventually a bowl of stew was brought out which she ate. The guards then informed her she had just eaten part of her son’s body.
I told you it was sickening. The next story gave me nightmares too. It’s from the Metro, a Malaysian newspaper that I read at Christmas when I was on holiday there. The accused in a trial was defending himself against a rape charge, the victim being his eight year old daughter. The alleged paedophile said “She was my daughter. I sowed the seed, so I had a right to the first taste of the fruit. I couldn’t resist the urge because of the way her dress looked on her body.”
The fact that this took place in a Moslem country is not the point, I think: Zingcreed has described several cases of alleged abuse among Christians already (like my bishop and my hospital chaplain.) I’m reminded of a notice I once saw on the wall of a Social Services department warning against knee-jerk reflexes: “For every problem there is one simple solution. And it’s wrong.”