Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Evil is truly the great Banality

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“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring;
real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”
― Simone Weil

When I was in the Navy, people often made fun of those who were on some kind of disciplined spiritual path. They believed that they must be unhappy not doing what many others were doing. Yet those who sought only to have a good time were the ones who were unhappy, at least from where I was standing.

Getting drunk, using other’s sexually, fighting, taking drugs and getting sick were not my idea of something ‘always new, marvelous and intoxicating’. Waking up with a hangover in the morning or feeling empty after a frivolous sexual encounter is actually monotonous, barren and boring.

Great evil only brings death and destruction both to those who live it and to those who are victims. War shows that to be true. ISIS also comes to mind. The fruits of evil are the same as watering a plant with salt water…..death is its fruit.

To listen to those who are racist, or into some kind of violent lifestyle are not usually the most interesting people to be around or to talk or listen to. When we seek to be our own healers, we are drawing from a center that is a lie, for at our deepest we are actually nothing, we have no generating power of our own. So evil is cyclic and can become an overriding compulsion in one's life.

When we seek to escape from ourselves, we try to blame everyone else or to use others and the world around us as an object to fill our inner hunger and emptiness…. for in the end, sin and evil are lies and can only deliver death and spiritual starvation. When we deny that a death to self is needed to break open into a deeper, more vivid reality, we pay a heavy price. No matter what road we choose, the one leading to deeper union with ultimate truth, or to run headlong into the eternal empty void, called hell, there is a price to be paid, there is not escape from this stark reality.

Faith, of all kinds, can also be unhealthy and evil if it is used to foster hatred and fear of others. Religion, that goes bad happens when the heart becomes closed to others, which leads to isolation. Instead of seeking inner healing, what we fear to face is taken out on those who believe or think differently. One aspect of evil is that it cannot take responsibility for its choices but blames others. It is the opposite of humility; that ability to accept the truth about oneself without hatred or despair, but a goad toward the accepting of Infinite Mercy.

Religion, that loses it ‘salt’ can be just as banal and death wielding as any evil in the world.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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