Those who wish to ignore or deny the existence of evil are understandably surprised when they are confronted by it’s reality. They seem genuinely surprised when someone close, be it family or a friend or neighbour does something criminal or socially inappropriate. In reality, nothing that people do “wrong” should surprise any of us.
Evil is so persistent and pervasive in each and every one of us that those who propose some means of excising evil from our world may as well propose cutting every heart from every human being.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, I remember hearing someone say, “Before this, I never believed that evil existed.” She never believed that evil existed? Just how dedicated to an errant world view does one have to be to be surprised by something so obvious? Just how evil and self-obsessed does one have to be to think that “The world’s not so bad”? Just because your fridge is full of food does not mean that everything is ok.
I propose that there should be no surprise whatsoever when a Pastor is exposed as a fraud, when a little league coach or teacher is found to be a sexual predator or when the grocer kills his wife and family. When one group suggests the destruction of Jews; When one race sees another race as less than; When those of us who have been born of love turn so quickly back to hate, these things should not surprise us. Disappoint? Oh yes! But surprise? No.
There are people who actually believe that beauty, wealth, intelligence, education and particularly science are in and of themselves able to ward off evil. Because we choose to ignore and deny the reality of evil and that, we do, because it smacks of a moral universe and or a moral law Giver, we are always surprised not only when evil disrupts OUR lives but when WE disrupt the lives of others by the evil the resides in us. How many entertainers of late have seemed to genuinely believe, “But I’m NOT a racist!” after some sickening rant?
Democracy, wealth, and education have no effect on evil except perhaps to help us better ignore or deny its existence. We hide behind our sophistication and then we profess surprise when the wealthiest and best educated among us perpetrate fantastic frauds on the most gullible among us; those who deny or ignore the most common form of evil in themselves - selfish greed and envy. We become surprised when wealthy, well educated men and women who were raised in strong democracies willingly blow up themselves and scores of others half a world away. It should not surprise, because evil, like rust, never sleeps.