Evil. When we free-associate with that word then certain names easily come to mind: Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin and others. While taking others’ lives is blatantly evil, wickedness can also come in other more subtle forms! For example, how about hackers? Why except to be wicked would someone release viruses on the internet that destroy hard-drives? Why except to be villainous would someone break into accounts of others and rob them of their money, their credit rating and their sense of security? We are all tempted to think that we are not wicked because WE don’t hack into people’s accounts, or rape, or shoplift.
But what about the small ways in which we indulge in wickedness? What about the thrill we get in repeating a rumor that slanders someone? What about the times when we say we’ll keep an appointment with someone even knowing while the words are coming out of our mouth that we will do no such thing? What about the vengeful thoughts that percolate within our hearts about others? I once had someone come to me for Confession who, when I asked what they had to confess, replied, “Nothing. I don’t sin.” My immediate thought was, “Well then why are you here?” An unexamined heart becomes a womb which gives birth to all degrees of wickedness, great and small, gross and subtle. The heart being so important to our choices, why is it that we often have no idea what resides within it?
I would like to propose that this state of things rests upon the fact that we have so many choices! In today’s culture we are drowning in choices! Where to eat, what to order, what school to attend, what car to buy, what, what, what! We are lost in an out-of-control buffet, lost in the midst of plenty, made confused by the sheer quantity of choices on our menu. That’s how I feel whenever I go into Sam’s Club! The size of the place and the number of choices makes my mind glaze over with numbness so unless I have a list in my hand I have no idea what I want! Were we to embrace having less we would find that what we choose matters more to us. Were we to embrace more silence we might start to hear our heart’s whisperings. Were we to dare to look into our heart we might find Stalin’s yearnings lurking in the corner! In short, if we think that wickedness holds no attraction for those of us who wouldn’t shoplift… don’t kid yourself!