What is Evil?

moral1.jpgThe Vatican recently added something new to its ever-increasing list of evils. Well, surely, it will make life a lot easier for the inhabitants of the 21st Century. Next time, before doing anything, people will refer to the list and cross check if their respective actions account to sinning or not. A rulebook incorporating all that is considered evil is a brilliant idea. Obviously, it will curb sinning. The icing on the cake is the fact that rules are being made for the young by the old. So, the way we must go about living our lives is being decided by those, who retired from the mad rat race long ago. One can surely argue that these rule makers are in sync with the times. Nevertheless, why should anyone else decide if what we do is right or wrong? Why should anyone – our elders, our highly esteemed moral police, our very encouraging society and its customs – dictate terms to us?

It is almost like handcuffing a person and saying,”you are free to live your life”. So while all of us are independent, we have the wise men and the wise women of the society setting down the rules for us. And if we dare not conform, all hell breakes loose. We are pelted by harsh reprimands and taunts about how our reckless generation is defying our culture, how our morals are fading away with each passing day.

A simple question needs to be answered though. Why are some things deemed as right while others are condemned to be wrong and sinful?

Who exactly decides where the fine line between moral and amoral should be drawn? Times are a changing and it is said that we must adapt with the times. Then, why does our definition of right and wrong not budge from its previous spot?

Morality is very relative. Every person has his or her very own code of ethics that they adhere to. We all have our definition of right and wrong. Often, our definitions do not coincide. But as long as we live life doing what we deem is right, and without it harming our fellow earth dwellers, what is really wrong with that?

A person might think of cosmetic surgery as a vile concept that plays with the ways of nature, but it might just be a blessing for someone who was disfigured in an unfortunate accident. Even if people resort to it just to enhance their beauty, what is so wrong? Some are born beautiful while others are not as magnanimously endowed by nature. Why should these people not be able to look beautiful?

We, the blessed sections of society, might frown upon a young boy who steals money and food, but for the poor boy, living in immense poverty, it might be the only way of survival. Who are we, the fortunate, to decide how that poor boy should live his life? The society might sneer on an unmarried mother, giving her colorful tags of being loose and characterless. However, imagine the strength that this woman has to go against our know-all society and bring up her child. Who are we to label her as characterless?

A young girl goes with her friends to have some fun at night and suddenly, their life comes to an abrupt halt due to an accident. Like an instant reaction, everyone starts pointing fingers at the girl. They wonder aloud what she was doing late at night with all those men. Hardly does anyone realize that she was just a young girl who, now, is no more. Just because she was out partying with some boys does not make her amoral. Why should our merciless world jump to these conclusions?

A prostitute who sells her body is always labeled amoral. Why? Certainly, she did not take to this profession by her own sweet choice. Fate must have played rough with her to make her sell her dignity to be able to survive. Why should some gossip hungry men and women deem her as characterless?

A son or a daughter might decide to shut down the life support that was dragging their ailing parent through a life of infinite misery. This child is not an insensitive, selfish person. He/she only wanted the loved one to die with dignity and with the minimal pain. Their action was certainly not prompted by some selfish motive. Rather, it was out of love and respect for their parent.

As we are not in the other person’s shoes, it is easy for us to condemn and pass judgment. We do it more for the sadistic pleasure that we get out of gossiping. We do not see the situation from the other person’s point of view.

A woman might divorce her husband or go to the extreme of avenging all the brutality that was inflected on her by taking a dire step like killing her own man. Naturally, the society will brand her as a crazy, unethical, immoral, dement of a woman. Maybe, someone who has been in a similar situation will be able to sympathize with her while the other will just call her names, pass snide remarks and completely try to avoid her society.

Evil is relative; morals change from person to person and society to society. A woman living in USA will certainly enjoy more privileges than a woman in Afghanistan. A society which sees all their women clad in burqas may find women in other parts of the world to be amoral.

While some might celebrate love on a particular day, our moral police will grab a poor couple who are enjoying each other’s company and forcibly marry them because they deem that such customs hurt ‘Indian sensitivities’.

Since childhood, we have grown up listening to people labeling certain things as good and some as evil; certain actions as moral and some as amoral. I believe there is no universal code which can define right or wrong. The perception of good and evil varies from person to person and culture to culture.

Apurva Joshi

[Image source :http://www.flickr.com/photos/joelduggan/460666225/ ]