Dostoevsky on the Problem of Evil

Dostoevsky on the Problem of Evil.

… And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price. I don’t want the mother to embrace the oppressor who threw her son to the dogs! She dare not forgive him! Let her forgive him for herself, if she will, let her forgive the torturer for the immeasurable suffering of her mother’s heart. But the sufferings of her tortured child she has no right to forgive; she dare not forgive the torturer, even if the child were to forgive him! And if that is so, if they dare not forgive, what becomes of harmony? Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I don’t want harmony. From love for humanity I don’t want it. I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it’s beyond our means to pay so much to enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket.”

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On the nature of evil

The difficulty with evil nowadays, is that we no longer recognize it. This isn’t because evil has changed at all, but because we now have a warped understanding of what it is.
Evil isn’t, and never has been, a James Bond (or Austin Powers) villain who twirls his moustaches and threatens to cut our hero in half with a giant band saw while telling him the secret plans for world domination. Evil people in the movies and on television are proud that they’re evil, and they do what they do with malice aforethought, and they articulate their enjoyment at seeing other people in pain. In the movies, the hero never has trouble telling who the bad guy is, even if sometimes they have trouble convincing others.
Real evil people don’t want you to think they’re evil. They don’t want to think they’re evil themselves, so they come up with elaborate rationalizations for why they’re good, or why their bad behavior is someone else’s fault. Have you ever seen a criminal face his victim and apologize? They have a tendency to say things like, “I’m sorry this happened to you” instead of “I’m sorry I did that to you.” They don’t own their mistakes. They might be apologizing, but it’s the apology of an innocent bystander rather than the perpetrator of the crime.
Evil people often do good things to cover up their evil behavior.
Like the Phillip Morris commercials that talk about how the company is donating money to battered women’s shelters and children’s causes when we all know they made their money from a product that kills people. Or the Nike “Mrs. Jones” commercials that talk about supporting women athletes when Nike is under fire for using child labor to make their products.

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