air_n_darkness: (maleficent- witch please)
[personal profile] air_n_darkness
eĀ·vil [ee-vuhl]
morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.
harmful; injurious: evil laws.
characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous: to be fallen on evil days.
due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation.
marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.: He is known for his evil disposition.

A friend jokingly commented on her wall that she'd been called evil, with the addition of like if you agree comment if you don't. People being how they are were both liking and commenting, but that is neither here nor there. It was all very tongue-in-cheek, very much a tee-hee sort of situation. One commenter, however, made the assertion that said friend could not be evil, because said friend is pagan, and pagans aren't evil people. Perhaps there is a subtle sarcasm in the person's wording that I am missing, but that doesn't change my immediate reaction.

That reaction? You have answered most incorrectly. You do not get to pass Go, nor collect $200.

(No I didn't post that. I'm not going to stir stuff up on a friend's page)

That was my visceral reaction though, very much a feeling of if this is what that person believes, than they are Doing It Wrong. That's like saying that Christians aren't evil, or Jews, or Buddhists, or any other sect, as if taking up the label means one is somehow immune to the temptations and tempers that can make one evil in another's eyes. That's the kicker. The concepts of "evil" and "good" are very relative concepts determined by the morality of an area's majority than by the one's personal ethics and morality.

When one examines themselves against the moral majority, even a "bad" person in society's view might not consider themselves such. For example, the husband who works long hours at a well-paying job to give his family a good living, who is always the first person to volunteer for community activities, sings in the church choir, etc considers himself a good person. If he wants recreation time with his wife, he is owed it regardless of her desires at the moment and is not above using a little force as encouragement. She is his wife and therefore his. Does he not take care excellent care of her and the kids? Never mind that what he does amounts to marital rape, he does not see it as such, and quite possibly, neither does she, depending on how she was raised.

Is that hypothetical man evil? By dictionary definition he is. He is doing something harmful to his wife, in a manner marked by anger and irritability. But at the same time he is not evil, again by the very first definition. By the standards of his raising and morality, he is neither wicked nor immoral, and he does not lead an evil life.

So how is it that by declaring oneself pagan one is suddenly exempt from the possibility of being evil? The answer is one is not. Ask some Christians and they will say that the very choosing of that label marks one as evil, regardless of how "good" a person is otherwise. There are countless examples of pagans who revealed their religion to friends and family who were instantly shunned. Not because the pagan changed his or her behavior, but because she or he changed her label. Suddenly, this person became damned and unfit to socialize with because they chose a religion that disagrees with the majority.

Evil is a relative concept. In our own local pagan community, there are so many petty, base, and deliberately harmful individuals that would test "evil" according to the definitions and it has nothing to do with those individuals' personal paths. I know some kind people who follow a truly dark path and some cruel ones who claim to follow a light one. Do not claim that because one follows a path of nature and magic that one cannot be evil. In Nature and Magic we often find the most glaring examples of True Good and True Evil extent.

Date: 2012-08-27 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In the world of relationships, evil is a terribly subjective term. People and their friends, lovers, partners, or whatevers have all sorts of relationships, and many look "very strange" from the outside. As a more extreme example, a "normal person" could really struggle with a couple that "enjoys" BDSM. Does that make anyone evil? Yes...and no.

To the observer, the whole thing might be evil. They might have the same thoughts when considering a gay or lesbian couple. However, their observations, and hence analysis, are largely based upon their own biases and experiences, and that means they are likely uncomfortable with anything different than their own established patterns of behavior. In these days, when too many words have lost their meaning, Evil is an easy term to toss around. Too easy. In these days when a large segment of society had become more and more outspoken about their personal beliefs, jumping to judgement about others is an Olympic event, and new "world's records" are set nearly every day. Of course, it is equally true that some in the more "fringe groups" seem to like to bait the masses, deliberately pushing the envelope to get a reaction. People like Rush are experts on both sides...both jumping and judging the jumping. That, of course, doesn't help much.

Sadly, as society become more religiously polarized, alternative belief systems become more stigmatized. While it used to be tacitly understood that most religions included some version of "if you don't believe like us, you're going to hell" as a part of their dogma, now it's become far more common to utter those words publicly, or even to act them out...i.e. Westboro Baptist Church. Using Christianity as an example, that's certainly not the witness that Jesus was advocating, even though it's being done in his name. The church that recently wouldn't allow a Black couple to wed in their building wasn't displaying any dogma that Jesus would support.

The word "totally" used to mean the ultimate amount. Now, it's just another throw-away word with no meaning. The word "gay" used to mean happy, then it meant something else. Now, it doesn't even mean that. To be honest, I'm not sure what it means any more, but I suspect most people who use it consider it a negative comment of some sort.

Likewise, the word "evil" has lost much of it's meaning, largely because it too is a the throw-away word, devoid of real context and too easily tossed out from what is probably a relatively minor offense...if even that. I know a little about what I think the word means, but I have no idea what somebody else might really mean if they use it. Personally I have no idea what it does, or should, mean within the Pagan community. It's just not a word I use much, because I'm not sure I can really define it, and because I could be saying, as judged by the listened, something much different than I intended.




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