Great, Satan

A Weekly roundtable on the subject of evil


"My sense of evil is one of distance from God. I don't really believe there are evil people but that there are people who can act in an evil manner. And I think that's a product of ego. The closer you are to God, the less your ego is going to be. To act in an evil way is to put your ego before God. Now, as to why there is evil . . . You know, maybe it's because I'm a mystic, but I believe that reality is nothing we can see on the surface, that it has a deeper component, one only apparent to God. I think our souls come into the world to heal brokenness, and the world is a broken place. Suffering because of evil is real, and we must try to heal the suffering. We see suffering because we do not have the advantage of seeing the world beyond time and space—these are human categories—as God is able to see all things. It's hard to explain or understand, but it's like trying to train a one-year-old not to run out into the street. There is no way you are going to explain to that child why they can't go out into the road; they think you're cruel for not allowing them to go, but you can see the broader picture, you can see all implications." Rabbi Bernie King, Temple Shir Ha-Ma'alot, Irvine, who came to the religious life after serving on a Navy submarine and marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Aaron Aguilera

"I don't think of it as a role. It's easy for me to be the bad guy because that's how I am in real life. I came up from the street. I had nothing; I had to be that way. I've been in trouble with the law, arrested for stealing cars and assault with a deadly weapon. That's all I knew. It wasn't like I looked at myself as a bad guy; it was just a way of life. I know some guy from Santa Monica might look down on me as being evil, but I don't think that guy could have survived growing up in downtown Santa Ana. I think you either live your life scaring other people or getting scared yourself. I've actually turned down work when people have asked me to be a good guy. I just hang up on them. I don't know what it's like to be a good guy. This is who I am." Aaron Aguilera, who wrestles for Ultimate Pro Wrestling as the malevolent Hardcore Kid, has been known to spit on those who boo him but says he has more hostility for the "weirdoes that think it's cool to cheer for the bad guy. I crap on them even more."


"I think evil is any kind of act that someone consciously knows is going to harm another and cause them physical and mental pain. I was thinking about it with animals—like starvation or neglect or lighting a cat on fire, stuff like that—just senseless acts of badness." Anonymous technician at a veterinary clinic who grooms, tests and occasionally euthanizes pets, some of which are pretty cute.


"I had a client who was a registered sex offender, and he was evil, absolutely without conscience. When he told me that he still struggled with his desire to have sex with prepubescent boys, I sought to find a way to strengthen his resolve. 'Why don't you?' I asked. He thought about it for a moment and replied, 'Only because I might get caught.' 'What about the torment of your victims? What about their suffering?' I asked. He thought about that and replied, 'No, that doesn't bother me.' I never saw him again, but I often think about the fact that he's probably still out there, acting because he wants to, regardless of the consequences to anyone else. And, yeah, sometimes that keeps me awake at night." OC psychologist.


"I don't hold that God lets evil things happen for some greater purpose. I'm sorry, but I can't fathom there is any way that that little girl (Danielle Van Dam) being taken away and tortured and murdered is somehow purposeful and planned by God. The only purpose to suffering is what we draw out of it. But I don't believe God created evil and suffering to somehow test us. One of the aftereffects of Sept. 11 is that all those little girls in Afghanistan can now go to school. That's wonderful, but I don't think God caused those hijackers to get up one day and plow those planes into buildings so those little girls could go to school. Why does it happen? I have no idea. I do know that you must be cautious about using the word evil. In this present conflict, we call our enemies evil, but don't they call us the same thing? Evil is a word that can get thrown around so easily. We need to look at and examine ourselves first. We might not go out individually and commit evil, but we'll demand low prices on clothing and allow that it's okay for others to suffer as long as we get it." The Reverend Gary Barmore teaches classes on religion at Orange Coast Community College and is pastor emeritus at Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa. He signed a letter advocating compassion for drug addicts, arguing it was a "medical and social problem."

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