I had a moment of enlightenment yesterday. I've had a few things on my mind of late, as regular readers will know. I've also had a rotten cold, on and off, for the best part of a month. In truth, I was feeling pretty low at the start of last week. As the cold has lifted, I've started to feel a little bit more positive. I have however been feeling rather reflective. Yesterday, I was meditating on life, having a quiet moment. I was thinking about a whole range of rather thought provoking matters and I got to thinking about the nature of evil. It may sound strange, but it really isn't something I've given a lot of thought to. I believe that most people are fundamentally good, but a few are fundamentally evil. I've met a couple of people who I would put into that category. What makes them evil? It is not a religious thing, some have been outwardly very 'religious', in fact being religious is a very useful skin for evil people to wear, to disguise their true nature. The single characteristic that all of these people share is that they bring misery wherever they go and destroy lives. Some of them can actually seem to be great to be around, but it is like the sweet aroma that the venus fly trap emits to tempt in flies to trap and devour. Such people destroy people with relish.
But it lead me to contemplate how they devour the happiness in people. I've met more than a few people who seem to walk around in a cloud of misery and unhappiness. What I have observed is that such people seem to have had the ability to see the good things in their life stripped from them. At some point something in their life has happened that has affected them so negatively that they cannot get beyond it. So often, when friends and colleagues who seem enveloped in such a cloud of misery have opened up to me, it seems that the reason is because they've been exposed to an evil individual who has stolen their ability to see the good things in their life. They steal the ability to move on.
It seems to me that evil people are not interested in anything other than causing misery. I will give you two very different examples. Lets start with Vladimir Putin. The man is the President of the largest country on Planet Earth. He controls the largest reserves of natural resources and a huge army. If Mr Putin was so minded, as an unchallenged dictator, with the huge natural reserves of Russia, he could make the people of Russia the wealthiest, best educated and happiest on the planet. He has huge wealth and if he chose to be a benign dictator and use his power and wealth for the benefit of his own people and the downtrodden of planet Earth, Russia could be a beacon of light. However, he has chosen a different route. A war of destruction against a neighbour. His own people are enveloped in misery. Every day dozens, if not hundreds of Russiana mothers wake to the news that their sons have died. What for? If Putin wins, the Russian people will be no richer or happier. All he has done is destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of Russian and Ukranian people. Russia is not a poor country, so the whole thing is totally unnecessary. Does he care for the misery he has caused? Does he care for the mothers, who dreamed of seeimg Grandchildren who have had their future robbed? Sadly, using the sweet smell of patriotism and nationalism, he has enveloped a huge country in a shroud of misery. For Putin, it's not about having more personal comfort, as he already has a lifestyle that is beyond the imagination of most of us. It is purely about the joy of creation of unhappiness and should be seen as such.
Sadly, there are cases closer to home. A friend of mine lost a son to suicide. Like the Russian people, his son had fallen prey to an evil individual. This was not a dictator, just a rather sad, controlling Paedophile. When the son was seven, the individual who was the boyfriend of his aunt started to abuse him. He controlled the poor child by telling him that if he told anyone, the paedophile would kill his little brother and it would all be his fault. Sadly, none of this came to light until a couple of decades after. The poor lad simply could not move on. His relationships suffered and he spiralled into depression. I know a few people who enduredd such abuse. What I've noticed is that for many, they simply can't get past the abuse, decades later. The evil that has been inflicted on them has left a scar too deep. Whilst outwardly, they may be successful, have all the things anyone can want, inside they are scarred and reliving the pain, sometimes on a daily or hourly basis from decades ago. Some turn to drugs and alcohol, some take even more desperate measures. Some just see their days out with a deep unhappiness. For many, not only do they have a PTSD, but they feel shame and guilt. Often when they learn that the perpetrator spent their life doing such things (they invariably do) to other people, they also feel guilt.
I sat contemplating the horror of all of this. I said I had a moment of enlightenment. I feel a sense of despair that such people walk among us and their victims suffer on a daily basis. What can we do? Often we will never even know why a friend never really seems happy. Sometimes they will tell us and we'll feel impotent and helpless, as we realise that we can't heal the scars. But there is something we can do. We can refrain from judging people. When they are 'having a bad day', we can be there for them. Simply saying "Are you OK, can we have a coffee?" is all we need to do. Never think you can sort anyone elses problems out (unless you are a plumber and they have a blocked sink). But you can be there. You can always say "If ever you need someone to talk to I'm here". It won't fix the problem, but sometimes, it will help them get through the day. And in truth, we all live in the here and now, so if you can help someone now, that's all that really matters, isn't it?