I just finished reading Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (read my review on Goodreads here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/117837), and I was reminded of the potential for evil which lies within all of us. Given the right set of circumstances, or the wrong ones depending on your perspective, each of us has the latent capacity to do something of which we would not have expected ourselves capable. The people around us, even those we know, love and trust may choose a course of dangerous and disturbingly unanticipated action. Have you ever played the game called, what if...?
In Heart of Darkness, Conrad examines this idea, and seems to suggest that evil is a kind of madness. The title of his novel refers both to the setting for the book, in a Congolese jungle, and to the moral condition of the almost mythical central figure, Kurtz. Consider this quote from Heart of Darkness, and you might wonder about how much choice Kurtz had in the person he became.
"...a spell...this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations." (p.96)
Are some people evil? Do others choose to be evil? How many evil acts does it take to make you an evil person? What is evil? Obviously there is no scope here for me to discuss these questions, but I would invite you to ponder the concept of evil.
This week in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, something happened which can only be described as an act of horrifying evil. Eleven year old Luke Batty was bashed to death with a cricket bat by his father in front of onlookers. The man, who was fatally wounded by police when he failed to surrender, had a history of mental illness and was estranged from Luke's mother. Despite this, she said that both Luke and her trusted him, and had no reason to be concerned for their safety.
I feel like crying as I think and write about this awful, unimaginable tragedy. Was it an act of evil or madness? Or are they the same thing?
This is the world in which we live, permeated with evil in its many guises, where darkness lurks in our hearts, and yet we stumble on blindly because we don't always recognize it, and when we do, it frightens us. But we are not helpless, nor hopeless. God has given us the resources to fight the darkness in our hearts, to resist evil wherever and in whomever we see it, and to love and forgive one another, until he calls us home.