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Monday, May 31, 2004

PEOPLE OF THE LIE Chapter: "The Danger and the Hope", Subheadings and subchapters: "The Dangers in Perspective", and "A Methodology of Love", Pages 263-269 [Copyright © 1983 in the U.S.A. and Internationally by M. Scott Peck, M.D. All rights are reserved. [Emphasis in both parenthesis "( )" and brackets "[ ]", in most cases added by me.)] "....The major threats to our survival no longer stem from nature without but from our own human nature within. It is our carelessness, our hostilities, our selfishness and pride and willful ignorance that endanger the world. Unless we can now tame and transmute the potential for evil in the human soul, we shall be lost. And how can we do this unless we are willing to look at our own evil with the same thoroughness, detached discernment, and rigorous methodology to which we subjected the external world?.... "....Despite their pretense of sanity, the evil are the most insane of all. "It is to the incredibly dreary insanity of the Adolf Eichmanns of this world that Hannah Ahrendt was referring when she spoke of 'the banality of evil.' Thomas Merton put it this way: "'One of the most disturbing facts that came out in the Eichmann trial was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous. It is the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared.' (Raids on the Unspeakable [New Directions Publishing Corp., 1964, paperback edition, pp. 45-46].) "What are we to do with the evil when their masquerade of sanity is so successful, their destructiveness so 'normal'? First, we must stop buying the masquerade and being deceived by the pretense. It is hoped that this book will help us toward that end. "But what, then? It is an old maxim: Know your enemy. We must not only recognize but study these poor, dull, terrified people. And attempt to do what we can to either heal or contain them.... "....(W)e are all in combat against evil. In the heat of the fray it is tempting to take hold of some seemingly simple solution--such as 'what we ought to do is just bomb the hell out of those people.' And if our passion is great enough, we may even be willing to blow ourselves up in the process of 'stomping out' evil. But we run up against the old problem that the end does not justify the means. Although evil is antilife, it is itself a form of life. If we kill those who are evil, we will become evil ourselves; we will be killers. If we attempt to deal with evil by destroying it, we will also end up destroying ourselves, spiritually if not physically. And we are likely to take some innocent people with us as well. "What to do, then? Like the patient, we must begin by giving up the simple notion that we can effectively conquer evil by destroying it. But this leaves us in a sort of nihilistic vacuum. Are we to throw up our hands--to regard the problem of evil as being inherently insoluble? Hardly. That would be meaningless. It is in the struggle between good and evil that life has its meaning--and in the hope that goodness can succeed. That is our answer: goodness can succeed. Evil can be defeated by goodness. When we translate this we realize what we dimly have always known: Evil can be conquered only by love. "So the methodology of our assault--scientific and otherwise--on evil must be love. This is so simple-sounding that one is compelled to wonder why it is not a more obvious truth. The fact is, simple-sounding though it may be, the methodology of love is so difficult in practice that we shy away from its usage. At first glance it even appears impossible. How is it possible to love people who are evil? Yet that is precisely what....we must do.... "The resolution of this dilemma is a paradox. The path of love is a dynamic balance of opposites, a painful creative tension of uncertainties, a difficult tightrope between extreme but easier courses of action. Consider the raising of a child. To reject all its misbehavior is unloving. To tolerate all its misbehavior is unloving. We must somehow be both tolerant and intolerant, accepting and demanding, strict and flexible. An almost godlike compassion is required.... "....How does the methodology of love work? How does it heal?.... "....(T)he first task of love is self-purification. When one has purified oneself, by the grace of God, to the point at which one can truly love one's enemies, a beautiful thing happens. ....(T)he boundaries of the soul become so clean as to be transparent, and a unique light then shines forth from the individual. "The effect of the light varies. Some on their way toward holiness will move more swiftly by its encouragement. Others, on their way toward evil, when encountering this light will be moved to change their direction. The bearer of the light (who is but a vehicle for it; it is the light of God) most often will be unaware of its effects [on themselves]. Finally, those who hate the light will attack it. Yet it is as if their evil actions are taken into the light and consumed. The malignant energy is thereby wasted, contained and neutralized. The process may be painful to the bearer of the light, [often] even fatal. This does not, however, signify the success of evil. Rather, it backfires.... (Emphasis in parenthesis "( )" added by the author in this case, and that in brackets "[ ]" added by me.) The healing of evil--scientifically or otherwise--can be accomplished only by the love of individuals...."


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