Tag Archives: evil

What colour is evil? (poem)

Gun metal grey, perhaps,

Or the sickly yellow of a gas attack.

The red of wounds, bloodied innocence,

And the private green of lurid envy.

Multi-coloured hate for different skins.

Pastel tones of apathy, magnolia conformity

The black dog standing on your chest,

Lethal blues prophesy suicide.

Little lies we claim are white.

While Agent Orange pours silence onto jungles.

Pink flush of the shamed cheek

Camouflage colours for the sniper.

Gender colours, yellow stars, brown shirts.

Greenwashing the present

Whitewashing the past

Painting over the cracks, we try to hide

Rainbow hues in the latest oil spill.


Darkness is womb, a seed in soil.

The respite of sleep.


Toxic human projects

Come in every known shade.

Accidentally Evil

One of the things going on in my gothic webcomic, www.hopelessmaine.com is a meditation on how evil functions. Most of the characters are not evil. All of them would tell you that they do the best they can with what they are up against. They have tough choices to make. There was no other way. It was for the greater good. They all have reasons. We all have reasons.

Most people are not evil, and yet evil thrives in the world, and does so because the majority let it. For a start, like the islanders of Hopeless Maine, many of us are wilfully oblivious. We don’t want to know about the nasty things, so we avoid them, tune them out, ignore in the hopes it will go away.

We believe we’re too good, hard working or lucky to have it happen to us. Like attracts like and I am good so what is in my life is good and I don’t have to wonder about its motives, or side effects.

We are afraid of change, afraid to challenge, afraid to be different, afraid to be the victim. It is safer to be silent, or to go with the flow, and so we go with the flow all the way to the killing fields and the concentration camps, telling each other we have no choice, no power. Wringing our hands as we facilitate death and suffering.

We don’t care. We’re not evil, just selfish and oblivious and easily persuaded that it’s no big deal, or the victims deserved it, or some other idea that allows us to carry on feeling comfortable. Our illusion of comfort is more important to us than truth, justice or other people’s lives. We know when they come for us there will be no one left to speak for us, but its more comfortable to imagine it will never get that bad.

We don’t want to believe the worst of people. They seem ok, they’d never set out to destroy us, or wipe out the disabled or slaughter the Jews, imprison the gypsies or torture the gays. They tell us they aren’t doing that. They tell us no one is really dying in their prisons, at the hands of their police officers, they haven’t tortured anyone. We want to believe them, and so we undertake to believe them. Anyone who tells us otherwise is scaremongering.

We walk to the shower block, telling each other it is a shower block and not a gas chamber. Because we’ve learned from history and we know that couldn’t possibly happen again. Not here. Not to us.

And anyway, it was only a small infringement of rights, and he was a criminal, and the police are on our side, and the corporations wouldn’t be so irresponsible as to poison the water and the politicians only have our best interests at heart, and no doctor would ever murder their patients and she was always polite to me in the street so I never thought about her child stealing from birdfeeders, and if they bring back the death penalty and take away the right to protest they won’t actually kill me for protesting, will they? Will they?

And so in our fear, our apathy, our disbelief, we cower, and do nothing, and trust that those we have given all the power to won’t hurt us even as we know they have hurt others. Thus there is evil unechecked. If we ask the awkward questions, if we bring our doubts and anxieties to the table, if we refuse to sit down and shut up while accepting that someone else knows best, if we take care of each other and consider kindness essential, we can change this.

A little light evil

One of the themes we play with quite a lot in the Hopeless Maine graphic novel project (www.hopelessmaine.com) is the issue of small evil. Not the big, dramatic, self-announcing, end of the world variety, but the small scale, puppy kicking stuff.

Every day affords us small opportunities to do it well, or do it badly. Help a stranger or hassle them. Get angry, or try to listen. Part of the trick is paying attention in the first place, noticing what is happening and thinking about our own responses. Part of it is thinking about what we want to put into the world.

Yesterday’s long train haul brought an interesting mix of people. Some were grumpy and rude, having a bad day and intending to share the misery as widely as possible. Many were patient, kind, helpful and co-operative. Some turned out to be fun and really interesting. Some had just experienced a pasting themselves and needed a bit of care and being listened to. No doubt there were bits that we handled better than others. An overcrowded train full of tired people with too much luggage is a perfect opportunity to really have a go at some random person you’ll never see again. It can be something else, it depends so much on what we do.

Those small acts of unkindness, disharmony, rudeness, that turn up as much in social media and in the street as on a train, have impact. That’s one more stressed, hurt, angry person who can ripple their frustrations out to affect the next victim. We grow evil out of these small events. We breed and nurture it, pushing towards more conflict. Verbal aggression so often turns into physical violence. The next thing you know, lines are drawn, it’s us and them and there will be bloody noses.

Small acts of making things just a little bit better make worlds of difference. The words of gratitude, of understanding, the working out a viable way for everyone, the not shouting and blaming… that too ripples out into better things, a happier space.

I’ve spent the weekend with Steampunks. It’s a community that takes manners seriously. Those small acts of kindness and courtesy make Steampunk a happy, comfortable sort of place to be. Co-operation is so much nicer than blame and harassment. When things aren’t working perfectly, people who pull together solve and overcome problems. People who lash out at each other just make things worse.

We do not have the same ethos of kindness and courtesy in the Druid community. We may talk about personal honour, and honourable relationship, but we’re far too quick to get cross with each other online.

Some of it is about losing track of what matters. So it went a bit wrong. You didn’t get what you wanted. It was too hot, too crowded, too expensive… yeah, these are things a person can choose to get mad about. But there is that other choice, of shrugging, saying ‘ah well, that sucked,’ and either making it better in some way or moving on to the next thing. We argue over irrelevant trivia and forget there’s a whole world out there full of genuinely wrong things that could use our attention. So what if we don’t agree on some esoteric point, or the best way to do ritual? It doesn’t matter. Let’s disagree considerately, let’s ripple out those little moments of good, not put yet more strife into the world.