Defining Intrinsic Evil
I see much intrinsic evil surfacing in our society. Whether it be racism, hatred, or lying – they all stem from selfishness. What makes many of these acts intrinsically evil is that nothing good comes from them. What makes an intrinsically evil act different from a morally unjust act is the intention of the sinner. For example, if a person steals a loaf of bread with the intention of feeding his starving family, the act of stealing is evil, but the intention does not make it intrinsically evil. Contrast that with the sins of racism, hatred and lying.
- When a person expresses racial slurs, aimed at demeaning or dehumanizing another human being/race, nothing good comes from that. The racist shows his/her vulnerabilities and insecurities. The recipient of the racial slurs is humiliated. Therefore, racism is intrinsically evil.
- If one individual hates another, wishing ill will on that person, nothing good comes from that. In fact, it only eats away at the goodness of the hater. Also, there is a loss of opportunity for engaging in a loving relationship between both parties. Therefore, hatred is intrinsically evil.
- Then, we need to consider those who tell habitual lies – lies that can be easily verified as lies. Nothing good comes from that. We eventually lose trust and credibility in the liar, who is doing nothing more than expressing a lack of integrity. Therefore, lying is intrinsically evil.
Fighting and Defeating Intrinsic Evil
How do we fight and defeat intrinsic evil? Well, the first step is to acknowledge that intrinsically evil acts exist. Second, when we see these acts occurring, we can denounce them. Remember, we are called to admonish the sinner as a Spiritual Work of Mercy. Third, when we are willing to stand up to evil, we will win, for “Evil triumphs only when a good man does nothing” – Edmund Burke.
Keep your heart, mind and soul open to goodness and truth, so that you can easily identify intrinsically evil acts. Pray for courage to admonish the sinner, from a basis of love. Stand up and defend God’s truth, and you will be the good man who does something!
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