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I've always thought that in "normal" society (whatever that is) most people just want to get along and live their own lives. I guess I have to admit I have personally known very few people who I thought were truly evil, i.e., people who went out of their way to deliberately make another person's life miserable, or who attempted to hurt or kill another person.

This morning I was thinking about the nature of evil and started looking it up. I found the article linked below in which Dennis Prager discusses the nature of evil. I thought he identified the crux of the matter, to my way of thinking below:

A lifelong study of good and evil has led to me conclude that the greatest single cause of evil is people perceiving of themselves or their group as victims. Nazism arose from Germans' sense of victimhood — as a result of the Versailles Treaty, of the "stab in the back" that led to Germany's loss in World War I and of a world Jewish conspiracy. Communism was predicated on workers regarding themselves as victims of the bourgeoisie. Much of Islamic evil today emanates from a belief that the Muslim world has been victimized by Christians and Jews. Many prisoners, including those imprisoned for horrible crimes, regard themselves as victims of society or of their upbringing. The list of those attributing their evil acts to their being victims is as long as the list of evildoers.


https://www.creators.com/read/dennis-prager/09/07/why-do-people-do-evil

What do you think? What is the nature of evil and where does it come from?
 

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My evil M-in-L lives to create misery in everyone with whom she associates. She was born that way as far as I know. My wife would agree with me.
 

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My evil M-in-L lives to create misery in everyone with whom she associates. She was born that way as far as I know. My wife would agree with me.
Of course, there are people like that, too. Sorry you have to deal with that.
 

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Evil is not just from people who deem themselves victims.
Evil also come from those who deem themselves superior to all those around them therefore everyone else is inconsequential.
Evil I also believe is a mental illness. The brain does not process empathy.
Evil is also spiritual to some extent if you believe in God and Satan.
 

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I think the sources in the article are a good list. I think they all boil down to a central theme though. That is dehumanization. To truly do evil to someone, you can't see them as a fully real person, morally equal to you. You may not be able to see anyone as a whole person, or they may have done something that crosses them off your "human" list, or they may be a part of some group that you consider not to be fully human. This can be seen with slavery, the Holocaust, mass shooters. The origin of that dehumanization may be learned prejudice, incitement, or that you were dehumanized by someone early in life.

We all do a bit of this whether we admit it or not. The "junior" version of dehumanization is contempt. There is a psychologist whose name I can't think of, but he has a theory with some scientific study behind it that end of any good relationship and the beginning of any antagonistic relationship starts with contempt. You can disagree with someone all you want, you may even scream and shout, but once you cross the line into contempt, it is the beginning of the slippery slope. I think contempt can be the "gateway drug" to dehumanization.
 

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We are imperfect in the absence of our Creator. He has said people are good, evil, or lukewarm. Some choose evil they seek it out. Others are demon possessed. Evil has been with mankind since almost the beginning, since the fall. Our hearts and desires are evil apart from God.
 

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Evil is/was the result of Adam's fall though I guess even that was predated by Satan's fall. It is ultimately a sin of pride. But enough theology for today.

Evil (or the acts of evil perpetrated by people) ultimately come down to a sense of I am better/more important than you. Yes there is some "you treat me wrong even though I am superior and my wants/needs are more important" attitude involved ==> Pride.
 

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Some years ago there was a psychologist (I forget the name of the show or network) that went to different prisons interviewing all manner of criminals to include rapists, child molesters, serial killers and a multitude of others then assign a rating of their evilness. About the only common denominator was none had any regard for human life except their own everyone else was just a pawn or just someone in their way that must be disposed of. Then there are the truly evil ones such as John Wayne Gacey who took delight in just killing for the sake of killing and another was BTK. Listening to his testimony was unnerving, he described killing people with even less emotion than someone describing how to change a flat tire. I do believe there are truly people out there but there is no single thing that makes them that way.
 

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Evil is/was the result of Adam's fall though I guess even that was predated by Satan's fall. It is ultimately a sin of pride. But enough theology for today.

Evil (or the acts of evil perpetrated by people) ultimately come down to a sense of I am better/more important than you. Yes there is some "you treat me wrong even though I am superior and my wants/needs are more important" attitude involved ==> Pride.
The old saying. pride came before the fall comes to mind.
 

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Evil is/was the result of Adam's fall though I guess even that was predated by Satan's fall. It is ultimately a sin of pride. But enough theology for today.

Evil (or the acts of evil perpetrated by people) ultimately come down to a sense of I am better/more important than you. Yes there is some "you treat me wrong even though I am superior and my wants/needs are more important" attitude involved ==> Pride.
in addition I believe there is also those created without the ability to have or know emotions. These people might be the same people that often cannot differentiate between right and wrong. I have heard these people sometimes called unemotional.
 

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I have an Uncle whom I view as being evil. Not some mass murdering monster, but he's a miserable person who makes the lives of those around him miserable. Biggest racist I've ever met. He's a lazy POS who is a die hard democrat.

Is he as bad as outright thieves and murderers, maybe not, but he will never be what any sane person would consider a good person.

I'm grateful that my cousins, his kids, took after our shared side of the family. They are decent enough people.
 

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I'm glad nobody asked me. Billy Graham often said that, "The human heart has a large hole in the center. Things are always battling to make room to live in the emptiness. Whoever controls the hole, controls the soul. Yet there is only ONE that can truly and fully fill that hole. When He fills it, the human soul finds rest and peace." (My paraphrase to keep from violating forum rules)

But...I won't leave you on that somber note. I have a story that truly illustrates evil men.

In a small town, there were two brothers who, over the course of many years, cheated, swindled, robbed and generally stole from everyone that they ever did business with.

The entire town and surrounding community reviled and despised these two brothers as everyone was aware of just how evil, disreputable, and dishonest they were.

One day, one of the brothers mysteriously died.

Although they had never attended church, the one remaining brother went to the local pastor and offered vast sums of money if he would come to the funeral and say the appropriate words, AND, a large bonus, but ONLY if he would - during the course of the eulogy -refer to his brother as "a Saint."

The pastor was troubled by the request, however, it was a very poor church and the church desperately needed repairs.

The Parishioners had heard about the pastor's dilemma and were curious as to what he would do.

The Funeral began, the church was packed, and the pastor started with the usual prayers and followed the rites and traditions as required by the churches teachings. In closing, after referring to the man in the box, he paused and turned to face the remaining brother.

He began, "As you all know, the departed was an awful, evil individual who robbed, cheated, swindled and stole from everyone he ever did business with.

However, compared to his Brother, he was - a Saint!"
Having officiated at a LOT of funerals, I can honestly say a very few people have presented me with the same offer. I turned them down flat.
 

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I've always thought that in "normal" society (whatever that is) most people just want to get along and live their own lives. I guess I have to admit I have personally known very few people who I thought were truly evil, i.e., people who went out of their way to deliberately make another person's life miserable, or who attempted to hurt or kill another person.

This morning I was thinking about the nature of evil and started looking it up. I found the article linked below in which Dennis Prager discusses the nature of evil. I thought he identified the crux of the matter, to my way of thinking below:

A lifelong study of good and evil has led to me conclude that the greatest single cause of evil is people perceiving of themselves or their group as victims. Nazism arose from Germans' sense of victimhood — as a result of the Versailles Treaty, of the "stab in the back" that led to Germany's loss in World War I and of a world Jewish conspiracy. Communism was predicated on workers regarding themselves as victims of the bourgeoisie. Much of Islamic evil today emanates from a belief that the Muslim world has been victimized by Christians and Jews. Many prisoners, including those imprisoned for horrible crimes, regard themselves as victims of society or of their upbringing. The list of those attributing their evil acts to their being victims is as long as the list of evildoers.


https://www.creators.com/read/dennis-prager/09/07/why-do-people-do-evil

What do you think? What is the nature of evil and where does it come from?
I think that it's not that simple. There are plenty of people who think of themselves as victims, because in many ways we are victims. I think the focus should be on empathy. People who lack empathy for others have great potential for evil, because they are unable to perceive the impact of their actions on others as being negative. Victimhood is merely an excuse for feeling well about doing something that would otherwise be perceived as wrong.
 

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Evil also come from those who deem themselves superior to all those around them therefore everyone else is inconsequential.
Divine Right.

We did not enslave the Negro because they victimized us.

Hillary Clinton and her audience, did/do believe themselves to be superior to a basket of deplorables -- the laughter and applause confirmed it.

But Leona Helmsley said it best: We don't pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.
 

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I think everyone, including the OP's article are missing the point. Dehumanizing others, selfishness, lack of regard for human life, seeing themselves as victims, seeing themselves as superiors, etc. are not what cause evil. Those are co-attributes with evil.

It is sort of like asking "What makes a race car go fast?" and answering with things like engine, tires, aerodynamics, environmental conditions, etc. and completely forgetting about the driver and mechanics.
 

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What makes people evil? Who knows. For some, probably many factors - upbringing, exposure to trauma, reinforcement of negative behavior, etc. For others, they might just be wired that way and then decide to act on it, while others wired that way may decide not to for some reason.

It's an interesting discussion, but it's academic. With 329 million Americans, there is a distribution spanning the spectrum from saints to sinners.
 

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My mother in law was a sociopath and was the most evil person I had ever meet. The only thing she cared about was herself and it didn't matter what she had to do or say to put herself first, no empathy or live for any one or thing.
She followed the same mold of working in health care as a private CNA, no supprised there was a long list of her clients dying, she also had 2 husband's and one daughter who died under very strange sucumstanses and investigated for said deaths.
Not suprisingly slot of very successful people are sosiopaths, Easter to get to your goal if you dont mind lying cheating, stealing and even murder in some cases.
Anyway that's the one person who was truly evil that I had encountered and the sosiopath disorder played a huge part in it.

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Probably a whole lot of reasons for evil. Two come readily to my mind. One is hubris ( No one and nothing compares in value to you. ) Another is a desire for revenge ( Maybe just revenge against the whole world because you are unhappy in it. ).
 

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We, our soul/heart, will either be filled by/with the ways (spirit/spirits) of the world or by the Holy Spirit after conversion. Religion may help but much of that has been influenced now by man and his own worldly ideas. Psychology may help, but it is only shuffling the ways of the world. Only when our focus (faith) in life is on/in the Son who came to undo the works of Satan will "real" change and new life begin to happen/appear. Every thing else is merely a mixture of the good and evil in this world ruled by Satan. To talk about anything else is merely a distraction from the only means available for real, true change of our soul and heart.
 
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