“Good” and “Evil” are not some mysterious forces “out there” that come and afflict us. God and the devil are not in some big battle for our souls or the universe. We have free will, and with free will comes the possibility that people will act in egregious ways.
James Luther Adams wrote “we deny the immaculate conception of virtue and affirm the necessity of social incarnation.”*
As individuals and as society, we manifest the virtues of good and the evil in the world.
This is why a tornado or tsunami is not considered evil, whereas a suicide bomber or flying planes into a building is labeled as evil. When a fundamentalist Christian evangelist claims a hurricane was some form of God’s retribution, people rightfully scoff.
We must see that often what we call “evil” is instead a cry for help, a reaction to fear, a person in pain. That does not excuse the behavior, and we must stand up to harmful behavior, but we must find a way to Love the person who enacts “evil.” If we act to stop them without Love, the result might be retribution or retaliation. If we act to stop evildoers with Love, our actions might be restorative.
We must be the Good in the world….
* James Luther Adams, On Being Human Religiously: Selected Essays in Religion and Society, ed. Max L. Stackhouse (Boston: Beacon Press, 1976), 18.