Evidence of ethnic cleansing in Rwuanda right after the mass murder of Tutsis, (1994).
After our discussions about determinism and/or freedom, it's too easy to report that "this is the way we are" (obvious & uninformative) or that evil cannot exist without good (axiomatic & lazy), or Facundo's interesting point about the evil's "gray areas, " i.e., the uneasy cohabitation of good and evil.
Here are my ten cents:
What is evil? This is. And this, and this and this.
Wait... it's too easy! Those above are limit cases. We are not that. Instead, let's look for the average kind of evil, the sapping everyday evil that becomes almost invisible, the sort who-me? evil that lurks and surprises, in other words, our shocking daily companion.
I will propose a very simple idea. Evil consists of "merely" treating people as a means to an end. See that the common factor present in both limit cases and average cases is precisely that.
The world is a jungle. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations when we have to choose1 to treat a person as a means to an end. It becomes unavoidable. What to do then? This is dharma, as momentous as it comes. We cannot become an ostrich and sink our head in the sand. so, we face the situation and try our best to practice ahimsa, i.e., we'd act in such a way that it minimizes treating a person "merely" as means to an end. This is what does violence.
Is it evil? Maybe, but then it will make a difference between necessary 2 and unnecessary evil. We have made the right choice. We can feel the instant as we own it, flowing through our veins.
The second interesting point is, where is this evil coming from?
Embeddedness is the world we inherit (not necessarily our choosing). Surprise, because this boring world, which seemed so uneventful up to this moment has suddenly become dangerous. Now we're scared shitless. Deliberation3, because this is our now-or-never moment. We'll define ourselves in the act of choosing NOW.
And who chooses? Was there really a solid "me" -valiantly defined, self-assured- before this moment? Bollocks. This now is always anew. This door is for me!
By the way, this is not my post #3, which I'll post later today.
1Sartre's fundamental existential motto: l'homme, par ses choix, définit lui-même le sens de sa vie (our choice defines the meaning of our life). The idea is that not choosing is not an option because by not choosing we automatically choose. 2Obviously, necessary evil is that which can prevent further evil, or bring forth good. Unnecessary evil is simply unredeemed. 3Look what a rich word this is. De-liberation. It comes from lat. deliberatus:de- libra (scale), it also brings forth liberatus, akin to liberty.