Unmaking worlds.

After three seasons of murder, child abuse, incest, rape, and more, today’s Veronica Mars disturbed me more than any other episode has, although “Plan B” came close. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything spoilery.)

A friend once called me “incurably able to find exonerating circumstances and forgive others.” It’s true in some circumstances, I suppose, but I think that much of the time, it boils down to near-naivete in the face of evil. It’s so disturbing to me, on a deep physical and emotional level, that a human could intentionally hurt another human, that I’d rather justify it with excuses of environment and ignorance and selfish self-deception. I tell myself to search for the plank in my own eye, to use the other as a mirror of my own follies.

Most of the time, I suppose it’s a good instinct to judge not lest I be judged, but too often I become too timid to judge at all. Even when the wrong being done is so unambiguous that I can’t explain it away, it’s easier to close my eyes than to stop it. And right now, God’s reminding me of what that entails.

For example: while researching cycling PSAs today, I came upon this video of a newspaper intern who stole his own bike in public seven times, and wasn’t stopped once. And it’s not just that it’s painfully easy for us to ignore what’s in front of us; the really disturbing thing is how easy it is to perpetuate it, given an excuse. (Be warned that the latter article is rather disturbing. Also note that the alleged perpetrator was a corrections officer.)

I’m not sure what the point of this entry is, really. Perhaps I’m just giving voice to my longstanding conflict between understanding the motivations behind evil and insisting that they don’t erase personal responsibility. The problem is that evil and excuses so often coincide; for every widely-publicized serial killer, you have hundreds of people systematically destroying human psyches and bodies because they can justify it as obeying authority. It’s easy to confront the former; it’s much more difficult, on a philosophical and psychological level, to confront the latter. And I’m not sure if I know how to do it yet.

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One comment on “Unmaking worlds.

  1. sly civilian says:

    for some reason, i’m always surprised (and pleased) to hear other people reading scarry’s work. it just made such an impact on my own thought, even if i have pretty substantial disagreements with how she read christian responses to violence.

    but it’s intensely topical, and i think gives us some language for resisting the move towards legitimizing torture.

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