As with my other posts, I acknowledge lack of any academic credentials for writing on the subject but since you are my captive audience and Facebook exists, here I am, writing about my opinions on this subject which is the core pillar on which all the OTTs, Hollywood, Bollywood and the like thrive.
The assumption here is that only human beings can perform evil since human beings are moral agents who can be held to account for their actions. There is evidence or observations of “evil behavior” in the animal world too but even if it is so, its scale implications are negligible. A Chimpanzee or a Dolphin displaying Psychopathic tendencies can do only a little damage as compared to what human beings are capable of and it is also difficult to hold these beings to account for their actions. Hence we can put aside the evil in the animal kingdom for this little article.
Any person who can cause harm to other person(s) through thoughts, words and deeds without any remorse or guilt is EVIL. Lack of empathy and concern for others would be major traits for a person to be categorized as evil. Someone who derives pleasure in the suffering of others which may not be caused by him or her is also evil though is little lower down in the evil food chain. Self deception is a characteristic of most evil people and many of these may successfully convince themselves of nothing being wrong with their evil thoughts, words or deeds. Self deception doesn’t make these folks any less evil.
I have attempted a pyramid for Evil too and the Psychopaths and Sociopaths who lead to deaths of a few or many are definitely at the top of this pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is a very large part of the the population who experience “Schadenfreude” which is also a shade of Evil. I could come up with 14 shades of Evil in the pyramid and perhaps there could be many more.
Nature of Evil Pyramid
1.1 Happiness in misery of others “Schadenfreude”
1.2 Wishing ill to others – Sub-consciously
1.3 Wishing ill to others- Consciously
1.4 Planning ill to others- Consciously
2.1 Speaking ill about others in their presence or absence
2.2 Granular Planning (verbally or in writing) an act or acts of evil
2.3 Speaking/writing leading to ill being caused to others
2.4 Speaking/writing to mobilize others to commit act(s) of evil
3.1 External Direction-Executing an act or acts of evil without causing injury to humans
3.2 Own Volition – Executing an act or acts of evil without causing injury to humans
3.3 External Direction – Causing injury or harm to one or many
3.4 Own Volition – Causing injury or harm to one or many
3.5 External Direction – Causing deaths of one or many
3.6 Own Volition – Causing deaths of one or many
It is possible to populate the above 14 categories with examples of past and current events but one would like to leave this to the intellect of the reader and perhaps someone could write further armchair articles on this subject.
Like in case of IQ, for evil too human beings follow a bell curve distribution and we would have a tiny minority which is saintly and a tiny minority which consists of psychopaths/sociopaths. These people, being predatory, need victims who are the opposite of themselves i.e. kind, compassionate people with good moral compasses etc. Prison population of criminals around the entire world is of the order of @ 10 million and the world population is @ 7800 million people. These 10 million people are either under trial or convicted for all manners of criminal acts against society. The US which has 5 % of the worlds population is an outlier in this respect with over 2 million people incarcerated which is 20+% of the global incarcerated population. This doesn’t mean that the percentage of evil people in the US is more, it may just mean that their system needs reform. So while a large percentage of the population may participate in the evil spectrum from 1.1 to 1.4, lesser numbers would be involved in 2.1 to 2.4 and very few, relative to population, in the action end of spectrum from 3.1 to 3.6. External directions refers to evil actions performed by a person or body of persons at the behest of some other agency or body or individual. Own volition is where the evil acts are an outcome of the evil thoughts which have arisen in the perpetrators own mind.
I like the concept of precognition in “Minority Report” where the cops are able to stop a crime before it happens since there is intervention in the thought-word-deed sequence in which a evil thought leads to an evil act. It is probable that we might see a world where this may happen a few decades from now once AI gains capability to do what the precogs did in that particular movie because it would be possible to assemble evil thoughts of a human being(and the evil direction in which they are headed) if he or she is an user of electronic devices and internet. I firmly believe that we do have a cosmic karmic judicial system which metes out appropriate reward /punishment for the good and also the instances of evil thoughts, words and actions which would cover a much larger numbers of humans as it would include evil which is not punished by the human judicial system and which has jurisprudence over all of creation. Our judicial system is for crimes which have been committed (includes conspiracy to commit a crime :-)) and doesn’t cover thoughts and has a limited say over words where mostly the published words or words spoken publicly which violate laws on the statutes are punished and/or penalized.
So how does an average person remove the bit of evil that exists in all of us except for saints and seers and other such august persons who have risen above this and are one with the eternal in their thoughts, words and deeds. For those whose belief system allows it, the answer is surrendering to the supreme being and automatically you are on a guided path like the saints themselves. Surrender is very easy to prescribe but very difficult to practice. For the others and also the believers, mindfulness as taught by the Buddha is the way to watch the thoughts as they rise in your mind in a “drashtaa bhaav” and observe them dissipate as everything is programmed to be ephemeral (on different time scales!) including thoughts, words, deeds, humans, earth and the entire universe(Vipassana is a great course for those who can undertake it). Mindfulness and belief in a higher power can curb evil to a large extent. It will still exist nevertheless.
As a general advice to folks younger than me, it is best to avoid folks who display a low/no sense of conscience and lack emotions like remorse or guilt when they cause injury to others in thoughts, words or deeds especially the latter two. Having to work with such folks as partners or colleagues would be an absolutely horrifying experience as long as it lasts. It would make eminent sense to walk away from such beings in all kinds of relationships.
Startup founders, when they choose partners, should be cognizant of the intrinsic qualities and propensities of their cofounders and should have spent a lot of time together before they take the plunge into enterprise together and formalize the association in the form of the creation of entities and SHA etc. The same holds for individuals as investors (Institutional entities have internal checks and balances). A lot more diligence needs to be done by entrepreneurs around the personal characteristics of their individual investors. There maybe some wealthy and/or powerful people who may be completely bereft of anything called conscience, compassion, remorse or guilt. While they may not go around causing physical harm, they may (see 3.2 ) cause injury through mental torture and attempt at subjugation or domination of their victims who might be an entrepreneur. It maybe wise to ask around about a person before you accept their cheque and make them a partner in your co.