On Good and Evil

by Doru Costache

Flashes cross my memory’s line of sight… You’d laugh at what flashes I’m talking about, but tough luck.

First, in Battlestar Galactica‘s preliminary, Commander Adama (a deeply symbolic name… “the earthling,” the preferred name of the Saviour Christ himself, Son of Adam/Man) gives an awesome speech where he wonders about humankind’s worthiness to be saved. Second, in the first instalment of The Matrix, Agent Smith reflects on humankind’s appetite for misery and suffering. These are the flashes, now to the topic.

That we are, yes, agreed Saint Symeon the New Theologian in the First Ethical Discourse — beings unable to seek and love God in times of joy and plenty, beings unable to seek and find ourselves in times of joy and plenty, beings unable to rejoice when others find joy and plenty. We love self-loathing and destruction. We love to destroy all good things because they are too good. We never appreciate the good. We love its opposite. We never see the good in others, even when people’s goodness, qualities, and contributions stare us in the face. We rejoice when we see good people being wrong, when they do unwise things, especially when they suffer for the right or the wrong reasons.

I know this man. Not too bad a person, definitely not evil even though far from perfection. He is well-meant, but at times he imprudently thinks that because he sees right that’s how others see too. And he goes on and on as though all are on the same page about the right path to take towards better days. One day he does something or other which his colleagues find not so good, not good at all. And hell’s unleashed. All his character, all his goodness, all his contributions are forgotten because of doing one thing or other his colleagues consider wrong. Nothing he is and none of his accomplishments weigh against this one wrong move. And hell’s unleashed. Consequently, this man’s life cannot continue as it was. As a result, unwillingly replicating his Lord’s experience, he has nowhere to lay his head (Matthew 8:20).

This is who we are. Loving evil and loving to cause evil, rejoicing at one’s misstep, blinding ourselves against people’s goodness because this or other wrong thing they did. We love seeing bad things happening, we love being miserable, we love feeling hurt, pathetically so, and above all we love causing further pain to another. We cannot rejoice when good things happen. We see crises and wrongdoings everywhere. We love getting hysterical for anything; much ado about nothing. Rushing towards commotion, we don’t even take a break to judge if what seems wrong is truly so. Breathe in, breathe out… Do we truly deserve to live and to be saved, when what we love are misery, evil, and pain?

Christ calls us to open our eyes, to think differently, and to cleanse our hearts of all evil. The paschal season whose end we are approaching (for it does not close before Pentecost, the fulfilment of the Lord’s paschal promise) teaches us the same. From the first to the sixth of its Sundays, we hear the call to open up our inner eyes so that we see light, not darkness, goodness, not evil. So that we comfort others, not destroy, so that we are spiritual bread for others, not poison.

7 June 2019 © AIOCS