There Is Only One Evil

by David Edwards

We live in a society that is so fantastically greedy, so fantastically irresponsible, that we cannot but be enmeshed in a net of hatred. Our selfishness, our indifference to the suffering of others, is simply staggering. Just consider...

First there are the business executives who subvert global warming treaties. Not only do that they do it but, like John Grasser of the mining industry and the Global Climate Coalition, they admit and justify doing it on the grounds that they are "buying time for our industries". Imagine that - they are obstructing action to stop a catastrophe that will claim countless thousands, perhaps millions, of lives, for short-term profit. Is it possible to conceive of such callousness, of such selfishness raised to the level of ultimate self-destruction, of such pragmatism raised to the level of ultimate naivety?

And then there are the political and media executives who almost visibly yawned when senior UN diplomats like Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck resigned in 1998 and 2000 describing how Western sanctions were really, truly responsible for genocide in Iraq, for the deaths of 500,000 children under five.

I wrote an article based on my own interview with Halliday. In it he demolished completely, incontrovertibly, the specious denials of Washington and London. Determined to publish such obviously vital material, I rang round every liberal newspaper in England, Ireland and Scotland. I was offering the arguments of an entirely credible high-level diplomat accusing my government of genocide. The article was dismissed out of hand, or because "Halliday is old hat", or because "the question and answer format is not right for us", or because "what is needed is for the Government position to change first", or because "we have already covered that subject" in an article before, once. The indifference and cynicism were breathtaking - they gave me a snapshot of a society utterly lost to self-interest and servility to power.

And now thousands of people lie crushed to death beneath giant buildings, and B52s are pounding a country packed with starving people. And my government, my media - this establishment, whose irresponsibility and cynicism I have personally witnessed - are telling me that 'we' are at war with evil. But they themselves are so befuddled by arrogance and compromise that they can't see the joke - that you can't wage war on evil with missiles and bombs. You can't hate someone else's hatred away.

You can wage war on evil with compassion for the suffering that causes evil, on the greed that creates the conditions on which evil thrives. You can wage war on evil by demolishing your own fatal arrogance, which, alas and alack, makes you honestly, truly and sincerely believe that you - in your skin, in your clothes, in your car, in your job - are really more important, more special, dammit more human, than that person over there in his skin, clothes and job.

There is only one evil - it is the evil of me just caring for me and mine, and not caring a damn for him and his. To wage war on evil we have to wage war on this terrible delusion: that only we matter, that we can best protect ourselves by caring only for ourselves. Bring the madmen to justice, but then turn things around for the rest of them: care for him and his, because I tell you we have not up to now, not for a moment.

But how do you do that when your whole political system, your entire economic system, your entire cultural system, is designed to take from him and to give to an opulent few?

The answer is simple: there are no systems, not really; there are only human hearts. So what are you going to do?


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