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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Ghost

I pull the pigtails
of the pale
little girl

whose skirt
is a raggedy shroud.

She is skinny
innocence
and says
in a past life
she carried
a cross.

She says, “Every time I shoplift, an angel sheds a tear”


Rob Goldstein 2015-2018

Poetry: In the Dark

Warning: content may be triggering

Digital painting based on a wall mural in San Francisco
In the Dark

in the dark

in my bed

by the wall

his tongue

my ear

his tongue

my mouth

his head

my thighs

wet silence

red blood

he enters

he fills me

my mouth

his breath

my face

his knife

I wait

in the dark

in my bed

By the wall

Rob Goldstein (c) 2015-2018

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11 Beautiful Minds of The 20th Century

Eleven brilliant and courageous men and women.

1.

Pablo Neruda
July 12, 1904-September 23, 1973

Art by Rob Goldstein
Pablo Neruda Ricardo Reyes as a young man

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

~ Pablo Neruda

2.

Norma Jeane Mortenson
June 1, 1926-August 5, 1962

Art by Rob Goldstein
Portrait of Norma Jeane Mortenson

I am not a victim of emotional conflicts. I am human.
Norma Jeane Mortenson

3.

Harvey Milk
May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978

 

Art By Rob Goldstein

“All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.”
Harvey Milk, The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words

4.

el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz
May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Malcolm X


“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
Malcolm X

5.

Nina Simone

February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003

Art by Rob Goldstein
Nina Simone

“I am just one of the people who is sick of the social order, sick of the establishment, sick to my soul of it all. To me, America’s society is nothing but a cancer, and it must be exposed before it can be cured. I am not the doctor to cure it. All I can do is expose the sickness.”
Nina Simone

6.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963

Art by Rob Goldstein
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”
John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage

7.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 15, 1929- April 4, 1968

Art By Rob Goldstein
Dr. Martin Luther King

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

8.

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau
July 5, 1889 – 11 October 11, 1963

Art by Rob Goldstein
Jean Cocteau

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.
Jean Cocteau

9.

Frank O’Hara
March 27, 1926 – July 25, 1966

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Frank O’Hara


“I wonder if the course of narcissism through the ages would have been any different had Narcissus first peered into a cesspool. He probably did.”
Frank O’Hara, Early Writing

10.

Simone de Beauvoir
January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Simone de Beauvoir


Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying. Simone de Beauvoir

11.

Jean Genet
December 19, 1910-April 15, 1986

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Jean Genet

What I did not yet know so intensely was the hatred of the white American for the black, a hatred so deep that I wonder if every white man in this country, when he plants a tree, doesn’t see Negroes hanging from its branches.  Jean Genet

 

Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge the images on this page are in the public domain.

Header photo, Portrait of Malcolm X, by Rob Goldstein (c) 2016

Blog post update July, 2018

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