"What is Evil?"
Sermon by Danielle Webber, Summer Minister.
The famous quote from Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best if times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” seems to sum up so many times throughout the ages. We live in a world that is floating somewhere in between the two polar opposites of all extremes. Unfortunately, those two polar opposites are too often side bide side.
So often when we talk about evil it is with the understanding that it is something external from ourselves, something that might even be external to humanity. Evil is a situation or act that happens when nature is cruel and detrimental to the wellbeing of life, or when humans are cruel and detrimental the wellbeing of life. But when humans are evil they are too often characterized as sick, not of the right mind, or have a deficiency of morals, character or empathy. It is not something that any sane or healthy and conscientious person would do. We put up a wall around evil and hope that it will never touch us, that we can steer clear from it, and that we will never be affected by it. But by separating evil from our selves means that we take away the humanity of those who have been considered evil.
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel Laureate
Solzhenitsyn argues that within every person there is both the possibility of good, and evil, not only that there is a possibility of good and evil, but that it actually exists within us, sitting there in the shadows and to remove it would be to remove our own humanity. What would happen if we were able to accept evil as a part of humanity, instead of apart from it. Perhaps then we could bring more life into our Unitarian Universalist principle of the inherent worth and dignity of All people.
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