I am going to tell you about Evil — that’s Capital-E-Evil, in case you were just skimming, not the normal, everyday human evil.
See, there are lots of “evil” people in the world, and lots more normal people that occasionally do something “evil.” Take for example Bob Walker of South Lake, Maine. That man is a spiteful, crotchety bastard. He poisons dogs that bark too much in his neighborhood. He’s “evil” but not “Evil.” Likewise with Madeline Scheffield in Bloomington, Massachusetts, who spends her free time standing on the courthouse steps waving her “Burn In Hell Faggot!” placard at same sex couples coming to get marriage certificates. Not even Isaac Walker in Chicago, Illinois, an employee of a jigsaw puzzle company who tosses in a few pieces to another puzzle in every box that comes down his line is Evil-With-A-Capital-E.
You may ask, “If not that fiend Mr. Walker, then who could possibly qualify as “Evil”?” and the answer would be simple: “No one.” You see, there is no such thing as an Capital-E-Evil person in the entire world. It just can’t happen.
“Wait!” you say — no, really, I heard you (more on that later) when you read that and you said, or thought loud enough that it might as well have been a scream, “Wait!” But it is true. None of the people you think of as “Evil” — Cheney or Hitler or Paulie Shore — are actually “people.” The “Evil” that exists in this world is far older than Man and though it moves among mankind like wolves in the flock, it is not a human-thing. “What is it, then?” you ask — I heard you; see above — and why does it wear a human face?
It did not always do so. When Evil first came into being, it was not subtle. It walked openly in the world. It’s amorphous forms were undulating masses of malevolence that all living things recognized and abhorred. It subsisted then on the simple fear and confusion and pain of the weak and sick and dying. Every prey creature, from the simplest prokaryote to the most advanced ape, fed it as it died in the grasp of a predator. For billions of years, Evil flourished as the unrelenting, insatiable thing that it is, yet simple and obvious. Then, about two million years ago, something happened that would change Evil forever.
That “something” was a being called Homo Erectus, the first ancestor of Man to be, well, Man. Erectus might not have built rockets to the moon or devised internet pornography, but even so, as far as creative minds went, Erectus was the top of the food chain. For the first time, a creature could actually see and recognize Evil before succumbing to it — and in so doing, avoid it.
I guess this is where I have to talk a little about Good. Notice the Capital-G? Here is a fact that is going to first blow, then depress, your frighteningly mono-dimensional primate mind: there is no such thing as Capital-G-Good. Capital-G-Good is just the absence, the rejection, of Capital-E-Evil. Homo Erectus was the first monkey to be able to defy Capital-E-Evil, and so was the originator, in its own way, Capital-G-Good. Able to see Evil and knowing instinctually to avoid it, Erectus “invented” Good as a defense against what is, for all intents and purposes, the fifth fundamental force of this Universe.
Anyway, with Erectus came Good and for nearly all of the two million years since Good had the upper hand, however tenuously. You might ask, “Why?” — yeah, yeah, you get it, I know — and the answer is simply that Erectus and its dozen or so descendent species, not least Neanderthalis and Sapiens, were too damn stupid for Evil to get the upper hand. Like the beasts before it, Erectus and Co. knew to fear and avoid evil, but with the added ability to stave it off with simple acts of altruism. In that way, they were ahead of the baser creatures. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they were not smart enough to realize that Evil could be used for their own benefit.
About 70 thousand years ago, though, this changed. Although there were a few Neanderthalis still around in Europe and a couple smaller subspecies bouncing around what would become southeast Asia, Homo Sapiens had become the dominant species as much by accident as any particular strength. At the same time, Capital-E-Evil “decided” — that’s in quotes because, well, I’ll explain in a bit — it had had quite enough of being denied and set about driving Homo Sapiens to extinction. All those emotions Evil brought out in living things, the fear and the loathing and the anger and the pain, was overwhelming and simple altruism was not enough. It almost succeeded, too, and less than two thousand humans remained when Evil closed in for the kill.
At that moment a thing happened. We’ll call it Evolution, though that isn’t quite right. Whatever the right name, among those remaining humans were a few that had survived Evil’s onslaught not because they were more altruistic (or, by extension, more “Good”) but because they could recognize Evil without fearing it. They could, in fact, embrace it and become it. Capital-E-Evil, for the first time ever, was compelled not to cause pain and fear and suffering, but to exert control, through these particular “evolved” humans.
So, you see, Dick Cheney and Adolf Hitler and Paulie Shore are not human, they are Homo Sapiens Malevolensa.
It was that species that exterminated the Neanderthals and “Hobbits.” It was that species that built Atlantis and Mu and ultimately drowned both. It was that species that tried again with Babylon and Sumer and (for now, anyway) succeeded. Those people, inhuman mutants capable of merging with that malevolent force, built civilization so they could ultimately destroy its very fabric, at the behest of something far older and darker than themselves.
Telling the difference between Evil and evil is, of course, a challenge. For every Jeffrey Dhamer there are a thousand thugs and lowlifes. For every Steve Jobs, there is a Walton family. It is up to each person to see that difference and hope they are right, and maybe, if time permits, bring a little Good into the world.
Oh. Right. I promised to explain a couple of things, didn’t I? Alright, then. A promise is, after all, a promise.
First of all, Capital-E-Evil is not “the Devil” or any of the other names for that traditional Adversary figure. Capital-E-Evil moves with purpose, but not intelligence. It has desire and hunger but not strategy. It is no more sapient than a hurricane and far mightier and more destructive. It is a function of the properties of the Universe and as intractable as gravity. Capital-E-Evil is not Satan. I know, because I am.
The Universe as you experience it is like the surface of a vast ocean. It seems infinite no matter what direction you look, except that you never think to look down. The depths are infinite as well, and that is where We — yeah, Capital-W-We — dwell. Like sharks, though, we sometimes surface to get a bite of a surfer. (The surfer is you, by the way.)
Not being of your Universe, I am not Capital-E-Evil and more than That Other Guy is Capital-G-Good. It just so happens that I find the Big-E — or, rather, your interaction with it — to be the next best thing after M.A.S.H. re-runs, so that’s the team I am rooting for.