The first time I read those words they struck me like a gong and they resonated through me since adolescence. I have faced many a fear with these words rolling through my mind and it has helped. There were things that logic and evidence could not discount and eliminate the fear and it turned out that they were real things to be fearful of and the litany against fear helped me navigate those things without losing my mind. But there is a thing that I keep turning my inner eye toward: fearful people do frightening things and behave in psychopathic manners. Religion tends to lean in this manner. People who have been indoctrinated into a religion and believe whole heartedly that their way is the only way have been programmed by their leaders that anything else is evil. This tends to be reinforced by their peers who have accepted this creed. We see this most recently with the discriminatory behavior by city councils who uninvite Wiccans to say prayer at the beginning of meetings and say ridiculous things in regards to their beliefs being evil and inspired by Satan. What is it about being different that inspires people to demonize another person, or group of them, and make them a target of hate and disdain?
Now this is a very personal example of how fearful people behave. They do it in a manner that is underhanded and sneaky so that they can get away with bad behavior and look pious doing it. Evil is not in any one thing, difference, being, or belief. Evil is an act. It is a pattern of behavior that undermines the trust and well being of others. Evil is indeed a fearful thing, but you have to understand what evil is in order to really recognize that it is not a thing that lives in something merely different than you.
so here is the dictionary meaning of evil: adjective
The list goes on for a count of 14 aspects of the word including an aspect of nature that gives rise to wicked behavior, but each time it is defined as a behavior. . . not a person or a thing or something that is different. A behavior.
We see evil every day. It is in the group of people spewing hate at gays, lesbians, and trans genders for loving another person who happens to be of the same gender. We see it in school yard with bullies both young and old. We see it in our politics, relationships, religious leadership and followers alike, yet, we insist on turning a blind eye and name it a being. What inspires us to do such a thing??? Two words: power and control.
When we grasp for power and control we are acknowledging that we have fear in our hearts that something will not go the way we insist it going. So we manipulate our environment and the people in it to elicit the reaction and behavior we want. Not all of this is evil. Spanking a child because the child dashed into the street or parking lot and almost gets hit by a car is not evil. It is an incentive for the child to remember to never do that again. Dashing into streets and parking lots without looking can be lethal and as parents our job is to ensure the maturity of our children arises. Did fear occur in the moment the child dashed into the street. . . hexes yes! However, it was a thing to genuinely fear. Undermining a relationship because of your religion is also a fear and acting upon that fear in a destructive manner is evil. Not even fear itself is evil. . . however, unexamined fear can most assuredly pave the road to evil. Fearful people do frightening things.