“Evil, is not what one expects: cruelty, moral perversion, power abuse, terror. These are its instruments or its results.” When we think of the word, many of us go to things like Hitler, Stalin, etc. And for the average person this makes sense. They accept the definition of evil as being some extreme violent behavior. I was watching a movie today, “God’s Not Dead,” and a lady said to her son something to the effect that evil is a comfortable, numbed out materialistic life that we don’t realize it is evil until it is usually too late. But what Hillman is talking about in the quote above is that evil is not created by the acts of people like Hitler, etc., but those acts are just the external manifestation of the corrosive agent that has festered in a culture long enough to allow such deeds to take place.
“But the deepest evil in the totalitarian system is precisely that which makes it work: its programmed, single-minded, monotonous efficiency… the dulling daily service, standard, boring, letter-perfect, uniform. No thought and no responsiveness….” This is our culture. The long lines to get service, the DMV, put on hold to find out the mistake that the company who put me on hold made with my money, etc.. People dont look you in the eye when you are in line to pay for something. Talking to people at meetings, at the store, and they are too preoccupied with their phones.(I can be guilty of this also.)
“The ‘general’ and the ‘uniform’ happen in thought before they happen in the street. They happen in thought when we lose touch with our aesthetic reflexes, the heart no longer touched….” This is what is happening, or really has happened to my culture. We are uniform in our food we eat, the images we watch on television to entertain us, the things we value. That is why I love my friends at Peets, many of them who have tattoos and piercings, purple hair or those big holes in their ears.
Losing the emotional connection to others is what makes the corrosive agent talked about above germinate. Mental illness, which I truly believe is caused primarily from lack of emotional connection to our fellow man/woman, is the corrosive agent we are germinating in our culture. Do I believe my society will implode because of it? Not in the short run. But I have a calling to try and work to arrest if not reverse the effects of this on those who I come into contact with. When will this shit end?
123 RV,SA,RW, PA, JW, RW!
Title is a quote from a friend of mine who is struggling with his depression. All other quotes by James Hillman