I often wonder about evil.
What exactly is it? Where does it come from? Is there a little bit of it in all of us? Does it live in your workplace? Are there such things as demons, and what about the biggest evil-doer of all, some one – or some thing – called the devil?
According to a Gallup poll taken a number of years ago, 70 per cent of Americans do believe in a real devil.
I’m old enough to remember a comedian named Flip Wilson (who died in 1998). He had a character named “Geraldine” who would offer the excuse for buying a new dress or car, as: “The Devil made me do it.”
That makes me wonder if the whole “evil” thing is an excuse for people to do crazy things. It’s not our fault. Something possessed us.
In November of 1981, a Connecticut man named Arne Johnson was convicted of killing his landlord – but at trial, Johnsons’s lawyer said he was possessed by a demon. The court heard how the devil made Johnson commit the murder. It was reported that Johnson actually growled, like a mad dog, before putting his pocket knife into his landlord.
Many of us have seen the 1973 movie “The Exorcist” but what you may not know is that the movie (and the book of the same name) are reported to have been based on an actual case. Jesuit priests in 1949 are said to have performed exorcism on a 14 year old boy possessed of pure evil. According to reports at the time, the boy could make furniture lift up into the air.
What about the horrible things that happen every day in society? Killings, beatings and attacks of all kinds. And were the monsters of history – Hitler and Stalin – possessed?
During his reign of terror, historians now say Adolf Hitler was likely responsible for killing between 19 and 25 million people. Yet, he was known to love dogs and children.
What about people who commit lesser offenses? They may have no moral compass. People who cheat and lie. Are they evil? Or is it the bitterness, frustration, jealousy, anger and hatred that can burn inside our hearts?
According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – the Holy Bible does indeed blame people for their misdeeds, quoting Jesus as saying “Out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts.” But the Association also says that yes, there is a real Satan who is opposed to God, and who constantly tempts human beings to do wrong.
Billy Graham (who died in 2018) believed in a real devil. But he once said: “If God were to remove all evil from our world, it would mean that the essence of ‘humanness’ would be destroyed. We would become robots.”
Most of us would agree there is evil in the world. Always has been.
In my case – I made a decision years ago to accept God into my life. And I’ve based my life on faith in that higher power.
Whatever it is that you may or may not believe – I think we can all agree that human beings have free will.
That means we can choose. Not only can we choose to hurt others, we can also choose to help others.
The week ahead, at work and home, will be full of choices for you and me.
If there is a devil…evil lurking around the corner – it better damn well watch out.
Because I’m planning to put it down.
I’m planning to treat others as I, myself, would want to be treated.