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Evil Is Rising, but Despair Is Not an Option


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Virtually every manifestation of evil involves a desire to dominate and control.


To many people, the world seems to make less and less sense with each passing day. Values we once cherished and that bound civil society together face daily bombardment. Offensive things are routinely said and done today in ways intended to inflame and divide. Freedoms we took for granted—freedoms of thought, speech, press, religion—are under relentless assault as intrusive government and cancel culture gain ground.

“Orwellian” is no longer just an adjective derived from a work of fiction more than seven decades ago; it describes some new development in our lives every day. Words and thoughts, once neutral or perhaps disagreeable but not actionable, are treated now as if they are crimes. History itself is being rewritten to serve political agendas. Petty tyrannies are morphing into bigger tyrannies as governments play an ever more intrusive role in the lives of their citizens. There’s an awful lot of bad behavior going on—and perpetrators getting away with it, too. From lying to looting, it feels like an epidemic.

That’s not very scientific, I admit. Steven Pinker, in his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined made a strong case that humanity is actually more humane today than ever. Statistics exist for murders and thefts, and Pinker provided bushels of them, but how does one measure bald-faced lies, silencing by intimidation, the “canceling” of dissenting opinions, and the like? Where are the data on hate, spitefulness, callousness, and discourtesy? I worry that amidst the good news Pinker revealed, something is amiss.


We are witnessing an alarming collapse of social cohesion that is propelled, as if it were consciously planned, by something bigger and more menacing than simply falling standards of character. I call it “evil,” and I sense that it’s on the loose and on the rise. Rabbi Gershon Winkler of the Walking Stick Foundation in Colorado writes,

Today, absolute evil flourishes in clever guises: for instance, distorted versions of social equality, or the officially sanctioned proliferation of outright lies and their costly consequences for the economic and physical well-being of entire communities. This form of evil is of the worst sort, since it is deceptively camouflaged by rhetoric disguised as humanitarian concern and compassion. Even the serpent in the Garden of Eden could not match the evil of draping the wool over the eyes of an entire population and allowing it to slip-slide into passive naiveté. Dishonesty and deception have time and again caused the fall of great civilizations:snip:

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3 hours ago, Geee said:

Virtually every manifestation of evil involves a desire to dominate and control.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History (CLCV 205) In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan explores the rise, fall, and significance of tyrannies in the Greek polis. He argues that the various tyrannies in the Greek world had both negative and positive aspects, which need to be appreciated. For instance, on the one hand, tyrannies promoted economic, commercial and artistic advances. On the other hand, tyrannies ruled absolutely and curbed the freedom of the polis. Finally, Professor Kagan intimates that tyrannies in many ways were a necessary step in the development of the classical polis. In short, through tyrannies, the power and influence of the aristocracy was broken and the hoplite farmer grew greater in significance.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Theorizing Why the Hoplite Phalanx Was Not Adopted by Others

10:34 - Chapter 2. How Greeks Understood Tyranny

21:15 - Chapter 3. The Rise of Greek Tyranny

40:18 - Chapter 4. Herodotus's Story of Orthagoras at Sicyon

50:25 - Chapter 5. The Story of Gyges and Unconventional Power

54:35 - Chapter 6. Features of Tyrannies

01:08:23 - Chapter 7. Consequences of Tyranny to Greek Life

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