Insight / Spirituality

The Evil Within

It is strange how I sometimes receive a life lesson through Spirit. Usually it is some random thought having occurred to me that is later hammered home through strong emotion. And such was my revelation on the presence of evil in my life and my role in promoting it.

The Expendables (2010 film)

I have been a fan of “Action” movies, the kind where the storyline portrays a crime of greed that results in fantastical car chases, superhuman feats and killing sprees. Over the last several years my interest in this genre of movies has waned and I have been more inclined to watch movies that champion the human spirit. But when The Expendables came out with its multi cast of action heroes I wanted to see it. Life as it often does kept me sidetracked and it wasn’t until The Expendables 2 was released that I found the opportunity to watch this movie. With the DVD in the player, I settled into my comfy chair prepared for an extravaganza of action and star power.

Before long the first “shoot ‘em up” occurred and as I watched I felt uncomfortable. My thoughts transcended the storyline and focused on violence and the awareness that evil is too evident in our lives. I thought about how we (society as a whole) have somehow collectively created an environment where angry young men kill school children and violently take the lives of others in movie theaters, in shopping malls and on college campuses. We have forged a social environment where violence in movies, in video games and on the news has become part of our preferred entertainment. I thought how we can become self-indulged and overly zealous in our pursuit of everything that satisfies “me” with little to no regard for the consequences that result. And why would this not be expected? We have for centuries hated and harmed others because they are of a different race, a different culture, of a different mindset than us and because they don’t serve our version of God.

I became aware of how evil takes root in my life with each selfish act that I take. The next act becomes easier, the root grows deeper and within time I can be deeply engrossed in self-deception and willing nurturing evil as it spreads like a cancer across the body of humanity. I think about how easy it has been at times to transgress my moral code and spiritual righteousness choosing instead to feed society’s penchants toward racism, hatred, violence, greed, pride, jealousy and selfishness. To satisfy my own pleasure I can  indulge my vanities while ignoring the subtle voice within warning of injustice and rationalize my choices to satisfy my own desires. In my past I have often chosen to ignore the devil inside and instead blamed all my iniquities on a evil being outside of myself. In time I realized that too often the distress that I have caused and attracted has been my choice, and I began trying to make better decisions in how I chose to live my life.

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Video Game Cleanup. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But until this moment I had not realized that something as simple as purchasing a violent movie has the effect of rippling more malice out into the world. Because I have just profited someone’s greed, and the want of more, new violent movies are in production. And so are video games and television programming that attracts advertisers soliciting sales and profits. I purchased one violent movie thinking that it has no impact, and then realized that it is likely that someone had purchased a gun and acted out the violent scenes he has played in a video game or watched in a movie. The news has broadcasted these crimes with an appealing story tag, like “Massacre in the Mall” and before long, someone else may feel the desire to claim a moment of fame or self-justification through a violent act.

I powered off the DVD player. In the overall scope of life it will not make a difference and perhaps it is just a silly gesture. I may never watch another action movie, and not just because I think it has potential to harm our society, but because I have been reminded that my spiritual health is affected by the choices that I make. That there is an evil within that can invade every thought that I have and impact every action that I take. The choice is mine. I can choose to gratify the darker part of my soul, or I can embrace the light.

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15 thoughts on “The Evil Within

  1. How true that all is. Our life is the sum of all our choices.
    I’ve been struggling lately with the issue of buying things in plastic, because I know how harmful plastic is to the environment. I take cloth bags to the grocery store, but so many things are packaged in plastic. I’ve stopped buying bottled water and sodas, and I buy milk only in the waxed cardboard cartons. But there is so much else that’s packaged in plastic. It’s almost as if every item purchased is a moral choice.

  2. I read an article once where British individuals were talking about some of America’s nonsensical moral compass. For instance one surprise was how immensely America cam denigrate nudity (a rather natural and arguably positive thing hah) bug condone slaughter, death, rape, corruption, mutilation, and etc (any crime investigation show being a good example). The point is astounding in how subtle and unnoticed such morality generally behaves. Personally I’ll still play some shoot-em-ups, but there has to be an aspect of it that deviates it from reality heavily. Perhaps that’s just my own hypocrisy, but I do think we should at least stay away from the true life examples as possible. I at least get a completely different feeling when the situation could actially happen, and it’s not a healthy one.

  3. I love this post! (; If I might add on to it for those who don’t know – there’s also the fact that over-exposure to on-screen violence makes you less trusting of others and desensitizes your capabilities for empathy. And like you said, it’s always important to think not just of the companies you support with your purchases, but the lifestyles. (:

  4. I agree that action movies are a pox on the world. In particular I think they promote the notion that violence destroys evil and that all problems can be solved with guns.

    It’s not the kids watching ‘Massacre in the Mall’ that frighten me, but rather the politicians always calling for more heavily armed police and soldiers as a solution to complex problems in domestic and foreign policy and the fact that they always seem to find a loud echo in the wider society.

    I greatly respect your ability to recognise that you have broken your own moral code. Most of us will always find an excuse or exception for ourselves – it is only others who fail to meet our moral standards.

    • I reckon ‘evil’ is just a morality that is utterly alien – probably because it has to deal with situations or environments completely different to my own.

      So someone acting on cultural imperatives I’m unable to see or understand might seem ‘evil’ to me.

      Or a powerful being who never experienced anything like the evolutionary and personal pressures that taught me empathy and fellow feeling might be ‘evil’.

      So evil he’d slaughter the world in a flood.
      So evil he’d destroy cities because he didn’t like the morality of the residents.
      So evil he’d tell his sycophants to commit genocide against a people who had protected them because some of their women had ‘tempted’ some of the sycophant men.

      That sort of inhuman, utterly alien evil that you might expect to see in a three year old with infinite power.

      • Yep.
        I reckon they were onto something, the Gnostics.

        Of course it wasn’t such a huge leap from Olympic gods to Gnostic archons so maybe someone else deserves the credit.

        And anyone who looks at the OT (or much of the NT) through humanist eyes would be forced to the conclusion that the God of the Israelites was an out of control psychopath (or something so alien it was ‘evil’).

        The moral has gotta be “Don’t talk to fire gods you find on mountains”.

      • Nah, us bipolars tend to be pretty susceptible to grief.

        I can’t imagine leaving a kid of mine nailed to a cross while he asks why I’ve forsaken him. Unless maybe I was off somewhere on a binge.

        Come to think of it though, there is a hereditary element and JC seemed to fluctuate from loving everyone to demanding they be brought before him and killed, telling people to beat their swords into ploughshares or sell their cloaks to buy swords, etc (cue a bunch of half-naked grumbling ex-fishermen trying to make farm implements from another stack of weaponry).

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