A Journal of America's Political Soul Heaven & Earth: Where Politics and Spirituality Meet
May 27, 2024  
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Issue No. 9 - Heaven & Earth
F E A T U R E S :

New » A Message for Humanity

On Morality: The Most Sacred Good

On Courage: Acting in the Presence of Fear

From Darkness, Awakening: A Department of Peace

Spirit Matters:
G&G Interviews Michael Lerner

We Still Need a Religious Left

9/11 and the American Empire:
How Should Religious People Respond?

Saving Fundamentalists From the Religious Right

The Dark Jesus: Spiritual Imagery Inspires Change and Heals Racism

Will We Choose To Survive?

A Sneak-Peak Interview with the Messiah

G&G Arts - Essay
Whose Good? Who's Evil?

Whose Good? Who's Evil?

Evil Exists in Our Failures to Own Up, Our Failures to Love

All who are married, raise your hands. Or are sisters or brothers. Friends. All of you who have any relationship with any human being, raise your hands.

In our partnerships, we share the load of becoming fully human. We gain stature – and peace – together as we give up parts of ourselves and assume aspects of others. We grow in respect and trust as we concede vital roles to those we love. We no longer need tend to the overwhelming whole, provided we remain safe in relationship. We are social.

As social animals we must do this to realize our human potential. The lone wolf is just another quadruped. The lone bee is merely a fly.

Being in a society of two – or two billion – frees each of us to nurture what we love and do best, but does not absolve us of responsibility for the whole. In our marriages, we must be mindful of all aspects of life: physical, spiritual, emotional, and social, even as one or the other becomes more attentive to tending this pasture or that flock.

In our country, and other fundamentalist religious nations of the world, the human quality of spirituality is as deeply fenced as territories in a failed marriage.

Marriages fail when natural divisions devolve into marked territories, with one partner fenced in, and the other fenced out. Societies fail the same way.

Our Constitution recognizes that we are a spiritual – even pious – people, and yet individual in our religious expression. For some, piety takes the form of ethical, moral behavior with no organized religion as its framework. For others, organized religion is the spindle upon which the rest of life is sculpted.

In our country, and other fundamentalist religious nations of the world, the human quality of spirituality is as deeply fenced as territories in a failed marriage. One side claims the right to determine what is moral and good, while the other, aghast at the excesses of the religious, disclaims spirituality altogether.

But then there's the question of evil. Is evil a religious issue, or a spiritual – and thereby human – issue? Can those of us who align ourselves with the secular rather than with the religious still ponder evil? Does talk about evil carry a religious taint in secular discussion, or is addressing evil among us our human responsibility?

Our political and personal lives stink too heavily of evil to relegate that concept to a few, let alone to those few who have embraced the territory of the spirit to mobilize evil for personal gain.

If evil is an inability to love or to see beyond personal desire, what other word describes a class or a country which kills for oil, drowns the poor for real estate, educates for corporate gain, and invariably places personal benefit above collective good? What other word describes people who permit this in their names?

What about those who speak but do not act for change in themselves and their communities? Can we call that evil also?

We abdicate our humanity when we fail to label and address the evil among us. We lone humans, no longer tending the pack or the hive, become nothing but a biped scourge on the earth.

Alan Morse lives and writes in Phillips, Maine.

This article first appeared on Common Dreams.

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