Portrait of Dr. Karl Brandt

A Definition of Evil

“I was motivated by absolutely humane feelings. I never had any other intention. I never had any other belief than that those poor miserable creatures-that the painful lives of these creatures were to be shortened.”

Karl Brandt, the physician who suggested that Hitler use poison gas to exterminate the Jews.

Portrait of Dr. Karl Brandt

To Karl Brandt, the people he murdered weren’t human.

They were creatures.

They were “those” poor miserable creatures.

Brandt told himself that killing Jews was an act of mercy; the behavior
of a civilized man.

M. Scott Peck, the psychiatrist who authored, The Road Less Traveled, described evil as a form of “militant ignorance“.

He addressed human evil in “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil“.

According to Peck an evil person tells himself he’s doing good to keep up
an image of perfection.

They,

  • Deceive others as a consequence of their own self-deception
  • Project their sins onto specific targets (scapegoats) while being
    apparently normal with everyone
  • Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others.
  • Abuses political (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”
  • Maintains a high level of respectability based on lies.
  • Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
  • Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)

For me, the most horrific aspect of the violence I experienced as a child was the worst anti-Semitic beatings were given by adults in the neighborhood.

I was that Jew.

That Christ killer.

The adults at that time felt they had a moral duty to debase and humiliate
me.

How is it different today?

How does it feel to the six-year-old son of impoverished immigrants who hears his parents described vermin?

What happens when a society abuses children as a matter of policy?

What happens to America with a President who incites violence?

M. Scott Peck defines evil as the use of cruelty against people who
cannot defend themselves.

 

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31 thoughts on “A Definition of Evil

  1. Painful to read Rob. I’m so sorry. I think Keith above here said it all best. May the blue wave tomorrow will be the start of cleaning up America. There are so many wonderful blue candidates who will be great for the country. May the wave be with us! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob, thanks for sharing. Quite simply, the US President is a fear mongerer who taps the worst in people. He oversimplifies and misidentifies reasons for their lot in life. He blames others. A real leader represents our better Angels, not our worst.

    I heard yesterday, while Jewish people are a small portion of the world’s population, they make up 15% of the Nobel laureates. What does that say? It means people of this religion have offered the world some of our greatest thinking and innovation, in much greater proportion to their numbers. It should be noted the Pittsburgh killer was taken to a hospital that was run by a Jewish CEO and had a high percentage of Jewish doctors and nurses. He was healed by Jews after killing eleven of them.

    With that in mind, here is a simple question for the white supremacists. What if the man or woman who will operate on you or a loved one is a Jew? What if an innovation that cures you or a loved one is created by a Jew? Jonas Salk, who created the Polio vaccine was Jewish. What if Alan Turing, the man who Dwight Eisenhower said shortened WWII by two years and saved 750,000 lives, was discovered to be the homosexual he was and not let to serve. What if Steve Jobs parents were not let into the country from Syria and he had been born elsewhere? Would Apple exist?

    Quite simply, being a white supremacist is not only hateful, unethical and unjust, it is extremely short sighted. If we only relied on white Anglo-Saxon protestants to create the world or country’s intellectual capital, we would be a much lesser place. And, that is without me even mentioning the maltreatment of women around the globe. Women hold up half the sky, per a Chinese proverb, so not letting them flourish downplays 1/2 of your intellectual capital.

    Keith

    The list goes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Keith. From my experience, people who believe they have the right to torture and kill people are rarely open to reason. This may be why the white supremacist movement is collaborating with our enemies to destroy the Rule of Law. Do you remember when our Federal Government acted on its Constitutional Authority to protect the rights of African American schoolchildren? The extremist right has worked for decades to dominate and reshape our system of Government.

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      1. Rob, I do remember. What is emblematic of this US President is the impunity the white supremacists now feel because of his election. With the racist robo calls directed at voters in Florida and Georgia, with the active cheating by the GOP in Georgia and North Dakota to make it difficult for African-Americans and Native Americans to vote and the “dog whistle” comments by GOP candidates and Trump cabinet members, it is clear what is OK in Trump’s vision of America. A real leader would vocally condemn these actions. But, therein lies the problem – Trump is not a leader, he is just occupying the leadership chair. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That is chilling. Seriously. Even though I know that crap has always been out there, it’s chilling to be inside that man’s mind. Because I know it’s true. I saw the same kind of thinking in my ex-husband when I finally escaped.
    I’m stunned that so many people have told me that they don’t believe evil exists in the world… They are so blessed to have had truly sheltered and easy lives.
    Well done, Rob. You knocked this one out of the park. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I just now watched the video. I didn’t know this one! I had seen one of her singing the song and thought it was a fabulous song. (Her voice is still as wonderful as ever!) I didn’t know about the new video images for the song. This is truly powerful. Thanks so much for sharing it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Think about the children who suffer today. We can do something about them. We can shut trump and his abusive cult down if all us vote. We can’t change a thing about my childhood. But we can give the pain meaning if we save the children who suffer today. And thank you for the comment and the thought. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We CAN make a difference. Probably the only thing I did right as a mama was raise my children with no prejudices. Like me, they make no judgements when it comes to color, religion, race or sexual preference. I am very proud of them.
        I told them that THEY can make a difference…and they always vote. They also recognize idiots when they see them and hear their bullshit rhetoric and hate-mongering…but what a sad world they are living in.

        Liked by 1 person

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