One reason there is evil in the world

Saint Michael  by Guido Reni
Saint Michael
by Guido Reni

“Why is there evil in the world?” is too big a question to answer here, but I am going to point out a little facet of human nature that I find operating in myself and I bet the same holds true for you.

Thought experiment: You are the ruler of a vast, fertile land. Every possible culinary delicacy is yours for the asking. Your clothes and furnishings are the best available on earth. Your every word is obeyed, no one ever disagrees with you, and you are revered as a demigod.

One person for whom this was true was the fabulously wealthy rock star-king Solomon, who as the supposed writer of Ecclesiastes, whines on for fourteen chapters about his miserable life.

‘I have seen all the works that are done under the sun and behold, all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14

(In my thought experiment, I smack him upside the head, “You’re nothing but a big, spoiled brat,” I tell Solomon. “Thanks,” he replies, “I needed that.”)

When every whim is indulged, when no hardship is allowed nigh thy dwelling, in the absence of evil-are you happy?  William James, America’s own great psychologist and philosopher, says, “Probably not.”

“Passive happiness is slack and insipid, and soon grows mawkish and intolerable. Some austerity and wintry negativity, some roughness, danger, stringency, and effort, some “no! no!” must be mixed in, to produce the sense of an existence with character and texture and power.”

Have you ever been really thirsty? Do you remember how good that drink was when it finally slid down your parched throat? Have you ever been really hungry and found that for some reason, even McDonald’s tasted superb? Even more mundane: Have you ever really had to pee, but the next rest stop was forty miles up the road? Remember what a wonderful rest that was when you finally got there?

Imagine how boring the painting of Michael the archangel would be if he was just tiptoeing through the tulips. Instead he has his sword drawn and his foot on the devil’s neck. There is evil in the world and it’s up to us to keep OUR FOOT ON HIS NECK.

Why is there evil in the world? I have not answered that question, but I just want to point out that, bizarrely, most of us cannot appreciate good things without bad things for contrast.

Remember: Your foot on his neck. 🙂



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