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Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

Pure evil exists. We don’t see it that often, but there are people, actions, and influences that are evil — no other excuses fully suffice. The Holocaust was evil; the killing and raping of innocents in the Middle East is evil; serial murders are evil. Hatred is one of the greatest evils and one that fuels other heinous acts.

It is true that many people who commit terrible crimes are mentally ill or psychopaths; but it goes further than that. There are those who enjoy killing others, whose souls have been totally obliterated. That I think is the essence of evil: the soul given to us by God at conception is gone — the connection with God (of any denomination) is lost and the desire to do good, to recognize and push away evil, is gone, and the black side is embraced.

I watched the movie Silence of the Lambs and it really gave me that creeps. The good acting by Anthony Hopkins showed the soullessness of Hannibal Lecter. I refused to see The Exorcist even though it was very popular when it came out because of the evil it portrayed. I just don’t like to be “near” evil because it has power to draw people in, entice them. Like The Portrait of Dorian Gray, people will give up the souls for power, glory, fame, fortune, and do whatever it takes to achieve those ends. In my view, the soul lives on, and its salvation is worth the effort.

Regardless of one’s alignment with a particular Judeo-Christian religion (I don’t know much about the others), there are wrongs that we all know, deep down, are truly evil. This innate level of recognition of good and evil Christians would say comes from God, but it doesn’t necessarily take a god to acknowledge what’s right and wrong.

Is there a devil? Does he try to snare people in with his powers? Maybe. Aside from that characterization, though, there is pure evil and there is pure good. Being flawed human beings, we will always err. We will tell lies (a rejection of the truth), we will punch our brother in the stomach when we’re kids (anger), but we usually know when we’ve done something wrong, and as we grow we try to make better decisions, though we will never be perfect.

I feel there’s a distinction between evil and wrong-doing; evil is deeper and more pervasive. It tends to affect some people’s actions on a consistent basis, and when you realize that about someone, you have to avoid them. They mean you no good, and they can’t be trusted. When good is not your god, and something else is (like power, lust, wealth), and there tend to be soul-deep problems.

I am an alcoholic (21 years sober), and I never felt the power of evil as much as in my helpless over alcohol. Alcohol became my god, my motivating force. I lied to myself and others, and behaved in ways I regret. I put my drinking above everything else. When I finally realized that this was true — by accepting my addiction for what it was, I was finally able to come clean, and have tried to live that way ever since. Honesty, both to oneself and others, is essential “in the program” and in life. I felt a lot of resentment when I was drinking, and now, if and when I feel that, I stop and try to figure out what the basis of it is, and address it, because resentment is a dangerous state of mind, akin to hate.

Good &amp Bad; We have most of the answers within ourselves, but it does take rigorous honesty and truth to ferret them out sometimes. We may not like the answers, especially when they point to destructive behavior on our part, but to stay “in the light” we have to listen to that small inner voice telling us what the right thing to do is, and reject the screaming devil on our shoulder trying to mislead us. For those who believe in it, prayer helps; connecting with God or one’s higher power, can help dispel the voice of evil.