Evil: A Self-Examination

Scott Peck says, in his book, People of the Lie, "For adults to be the victims of evil, they must be powerless to escape. They may be powerless when a gun is held to their head...Or they may be powerless by virtue of their own failure of courage...Whenever adults not at gunpoint become victims of evil it is because they have--one way or another--bound [themselves] by chains of laziness and dependency....settling for a child's impotence." 119-120

Peck likens human good and evil to a continuum and says, "As individuals we can move ourselves one way or the other along the continuum." He quotes from Erich Fromm, The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil:

The longer we continue to make the wrong decisions, the more our heart hardens; the more often we make the right decisions, the more our heart softens--or better perhaps, comes alive...Most people fail at the art of living not because they are inherently bad or so without will that they cannot lead a better life; they fail because they do not wake up and see when they stand at a fork in the road and have to decide. They are not aware when life asks them a question, and when they still have alternative answers. Then with each step along the wrong road it becomes increasingly difficult for them to admit that they are on the wrong road. 81-82

Peck also makes this statement: "Evil...is dangerous. It will contaminate or otherwise destroy a person who remains too long in its presence."65 All of us, therefore, but especially former Workers, need to ask ourselves not just have we been hurt or abused but, "How by dependency and passivity have I taken on characteristics of evil?" 

Am I less truthful?

Am I more ready to excuse a lie?  To think that a lie is sometimes justified for a "good" reason?  To lie to get my way?  To lie to control someone, or control a situation, perhaps to someone else's detriment?

Am I controlling?

Do I use my rightness as an excuse to become more justified in insisting on my way?  To be discourteous and contemptuous to win a point?  To override the opinions or preferences of others to have the last word?  To set things up so that I am the gatekeeper of information and access?

Have I expanded the areas over which I insist on being in control?

Do I tend to avoid collaborative situations, and assume that top-down organization is preferable?

Am I willful?   

Do I find myself insisting on protesting my "innocence", especially when it might be to someone else's detriment, maybe my family, or others who need an apology from me?

Have I become less able to see my own faults and sins, less willing to admit them?

Am I less subject to the laws of the land?  More inclined to cut corners in my business ethics, my taxes, my driving?  Inclined to borrow and not return?  Inclined to make agreements and excuse not keeping them?

Do I scapegoat?

Have I learned to quickly shift the focus onto someone else's perceived failings, and away from mine?  Am I quick to accuse others of evil, less ready to see it in myself?

Have I become less empathetic, more narcissistic? 

Do I impose my rightness on others instead of listening and understanding them?  Am I more focused on what people think of me?  Has this led to a blurring of sexual boundaries, to "innocent" flirtation?

Have I become more passive or dependent? 

Less able to make decisions on my own?  Was I possibly in thrall to an evil person?  Has this led to an inability to say no, or to keep appropriate boundaries, perhaps sexual boundaries?

Have I become more secretive?

Have I become less open?  Have I developed a disguise to cloak my true self, or my motives?  Do I keep certain of my activities hidden? What is my motivation?

Further reading related to narcissism:

• Narcissism Part 1  Malignant Narcissism: Quotations from People of the Lie »
• Narcissism Part 2 Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) »
• Narcissism Part 3  Malignant Narcissism: A Stage Production »
• Could There Have Been a Few Sociopaths among Us? »
• Cult of the Narcissist »
• Relationship Checklist »
• The Abuser's Body Language »   
• Liars's Brains Are Wired Differently »

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