Aidan Kelly’s Article Pushed My Buttons

“I spend about as much time as any other well-informed person being concerned about the problems America is facing and, like everyone else, not having a clue about what I can do to help ameliorate the situation. I feel that I should be doing whatever I can. I certainly agree with Edmund Burke’s observation that evil can triumph only if good people do nothing. But evil has no objective, ontological existence. It consists entirely of the absence of the good, as darkness is merely the absence of light, not a black fog that can overwhelm the light. Only adult human beings can intend evil, and evil is always intentional. It is simply gratuitous malevolence, the intent to harm another human being (or perhaps any living being) when doing so is unnecessary. As Scott Peck argued, evil is a mental illness. It could conceivably be cured and eradicated. And that should be a goal of any and all genuine religions.”
~Opening paragraph of  Why We Must Help Those Who Cannot Help Themselves by Aidan Kelly
Aidan, I respect the work you’ve done and the places you’ve been.  I salute the successes you’ve enjoyed.  I can tell your heart’s in the right place.  But this article is just plain awful, and as much as I’d like to stay off your lawn, I have to express my feelings.  Let me begin by saying that the reason you feel clueless is that you’re standing on shaky philosophical ground.
Your definition of evil is undeveloped at best (and at the worst dead wrong).
Evil is the absence of good?  Evil is not only perpetrated by humans?  Your statements sound like ideas my first grade teacher might have taught me back in ’68, back when we all started the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the Lord’s Prayer.  Now we know that chimpanzees perpetrate massacres, ants wage genocidal wars, and cats torture prey they plan to kill (eventually) but never eat.  Ever been attacked by a dog?  I have, and that bitch was evil.
Tying evil — and by extension good also — to humans was was your first mistake.
People are animals.  We’re never going to make progress on any front, socially and especially environmentally, until we realize that the Great Chain of Being is one of the greatest and most damaging lies ever promulgated.  Humans are not better than animals, who are not better than plants, who are not better than insects.  Every living thing is necessary and equal in the web of life.  We’re all evolving and everything is possible.  On a long enough time line, provided we don’t exterminate them all, a Bengal tiger is going to write a book that reads like something by Anton LaVey.

Your second mistake was that you failed to distinguish between Evil (with a capital “E”) and evil (with a little “e”).  “Evil” is quite a bit different from everyday “evil.”

Jung understood this better than anyone.  As he said, “The unconscious is not just evil by nature, it is also the source of the highest good: not only dark but also light, not only bestial, semi-human, and demonic but superhuman, spiritual, and, in the classical sense of the word, ‘divine.'”  The evils (with a little “e”) you rail against later in the article, and rightly so, are better called by their specific names — perfidy, greed, maliciousness, and so on.  Those evils with a little “e” spring forth from the unconscious.  They aren’t going anywhere.

Big “E” evil is just as powerful and important as big “G” Good.  As Jung said in The Seven Sermons to the Dead, in which his supreme god was Abraxas, “What the god-sun speaketh is life. What the devil speaketh is death. But Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time. Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act. Wherefore is Abraxas terrible.”  Jung’s vision isn’t unique.  Every pantheon has an evil deity or two, except Christianity.  But then, Jung would have remedied that by making the trinity a quaternity if he’d had his way.

In short, little “e” evil is ubiquitous, normal, not unique to humans, stems from the unconscious, and therefore can’t be eradicated.  Big “E” Evil is part of the Godhead, and therefore it can’t be eradicated either.  So it doesn’t matter whether you meant ‘evil’ or ‘Evil.’  Either way you were wrong.

You’re a gnostic.  You should know this stuff.

You used an outmoded definition of religion.

You said that eradicating evil “should be a goal of any and all genuine religions.”  As a witch, I start to look for a fire extinguisher whenever somebody starts talking about what should and should not be considered a “genuine” religion. A religion should be about whatever a religion wants to be about.
You used to be a hippie, commie, beatnik witch.  Don’t you know this stuff?

You don’t understand the rules of the game.

Your love of the Golden Rule — you even quoted Hillel to close your article! — is destroying your chances of making the world a better place.  To quote Carl Sagan from his article The Rules of the Game, “The Golden Rule is not only an unsuccessful strategy; it is also dangerous for other players, who may succeed in the short-term only to be mowed down by exploiters in the long-term.”  The Golden Rule, is well, stupid.  It just doesn’t work.

You aren’t going to have a tinker’s chance in hell of making the world a better place if you don’t understand the game.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have all of the answers.  It’s just that, because I’m on solid philosophical ground, I don’t feel clueless.  I feel small and insignificant.  But with the help of my Gods, spirits, and familiars, I’ll do what I can to fight evil — the little “e” kind — as hard as I can.

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