Yesterday, I took a friend to her cancer treatment. I sat in the waiting room, reading, while she endured a painful and humiliating event. When she emerged, she was tearful and trembling.
As I waited, I read an ancillary textbook for my next class. In the book was an excerpt from M. Scott Peck’s book, People of the Lie. In it, he postulates that evil is a disease, much like alcoholism. People who engage in both evil and alcoholism are participants, he says. Whether they are willing participants or not is the point of the matter.
As an alcoholic who has been clean and sober for many years, I can say that my participation in drinking was the result of a physical craving that was so severe that I would do anything, anything, to satisfy that craving, at the expense of all that was dear. Was I a willing participant? Yes, in a manner of speaking. We all have a need to feel like we’re the good guys, doing the good thing, even when we’re committing heinous acts. I, having no control over my drinking, embraced it as the cool thing to do. Until the time came when I could no longer do so, and shame took over. The only thing that keeps my alcoholism at bay today is a program of spiritual living.
But evil… now that’s a completely different thing. Isn’t it?
The Urantia Book defines evil as “a partial realization of, or maladjustment to, universe realities.” It goes on to say: “And of all forms of evil, none are more destructive of personality status than betrayal of trust and disloyalty to one’s confiding friends.” It is a “deficiency of wisdom.”
And so it would seem that evil is within our control, until we turn that corner and discover that we cannot stop. There was a moment at which I could not stop drinking. Does there come a moment when we cannot curtail our destructive (evil) actions?
Is evil addictive?
And if it is, will a program of spiritual living cure it, or halt its progression? Keep it in remission?
But what about my friend who emerged from the treatment room in the cancer center, shaken and traumatized by the error visited upon her body?
Evil may be an action; it may or may not be a willful action. But the darkness that we call cancer is certainly born of evil–a maladjustment to universe realities.
The treatment isn’t pretty, no matter what the circumstances. Today, cancer is a treatable disease, and my friend will endure whatever discomfort it takes to eradicate the darkness from her body, along with millions of others, recovering from cancer, recovering from alcoholism.
I hope that some day, other manifestations of evil will be similarly treated and eradicated.