Monday, June 11, 2007

What Happened to Evil?


In  recent conversation at Spiritus Mundi, during a conversation about Mercury going retrograde June 15th, the subject of good and evil in modern context came up. Chris Warnock pointed out that Mercury Retrograde has become a major catastrophe in modern astrology, and its influence, while still being negative, has been blown way out of proportion. He believes this is because modern astrologers have set about removing anything evil or negative from astrology in general, and have basically sugar-coated every malefic force in astrological readings, turning everything fluffy and light. Mercury retro is hard to make look pretty, so it's sort of picked up all the negative baggage of everything malefic, making it look much worse than it really is.

This series of posts got me thinking about evil in general in the modern age. Everywhere I can think of, the things that were seen to be evil in the past has been presented and turned into opportunities for growth in the present. Demons aren't demons serving Satan, they're gods from pagan pantheons that got a bad rap under Christianity. Gods of the underworld aren't evil, they're benevolent. Death isn't evil, it's an opportunity for change and metamorphosis. Every negative manifestation in our lives that would have been understood as an evil influence in the dark ages has been turned into an opportunity for growth. Everybody's looking on the bright side of things, no matter how calamitous.

I may or may not have ranted on the existence of evil here on my blog before, I don't remember. It really gets on my nerves when people refuse to acknowledge evil.

But I've been thinking. How bad is it that people don't see evil as evil anymore? How wrong is it to approach evil things as challenges instead of something to avoid at all costs? The result of our approach to evil changing is that we deal with it, seek solutions to problems instead of just saying "That's just evil," and walking away. We face the sources of evil more often now. We aren't afraid of evil the way we used to be, and that's a good thing. The Super Heroes of old would protect the helpless from the villains. Today we're all Heroes on the sacred quest, thanks to Joe Campbell and George Lucas.

I still think relativistic ethical stances, moral ambiguity, and saying "There's no such thing as evil!" is stupid and dangerous. Evil does definitely exist.

But I'm glad we're working on getting rid of the pesky thing now.