Evil (an open letter to my dead father)

Dad, you believed in evil
To your dying day.
You weren’t a Christian
But it was just your way
Of forgiving human beings for
All the sadistic
Blood-thirsty things they have done almost non-stop
Throughout the histories of so-called civilization.
To you, there just had to be
Something evil out there
That infects the souls
And the good intentions of people,
Then you could forgive
Your own humanity.
You and I. . .
We went on for hours about this
Over the years.
I argued that if you believe in an ultimate good,
Then you are stuck with its opposite.
If you have God,
Then you have the devil to deal with
And there are a lot of Christians out there.
I often suspected you should
Really be having it out with a priest!
But you didn’t believe in an ultimate good,
Much less a personification of good,
Just in an ultimate evil.
Eventually you did grant
The possibility of a universal spirit of life,
But only as a concession.
It sounded too philosophical to me,
Too intellectual.
But evil, and specifically the evil
That possessed certain members of the human race
Stalked you.
Evil bruised your ability to believe
In any other super-human power!
I, your son, and proud of it,
Also do not believe in an ultimate good,
But, while you were alive,
I tried so hard to get you to see that the Earth
Is a Great Spirit.
You were thrown off by the notion that matter
Could be alive, or sentient.
I don’t blame you Dad.
Until I took the magic mushroom
At the age of 54,
The sentience of matter
Was just something I embraced on faith.
I would say to you,
But where is your “evil” in nature?
You would just stare at your coffee.
I would say,
Evil is a human projection.
If we torture, maim, commit atrocities,
Turn our desperate brothers and sisters
Away from our borders,
It is because we are lonely,
Hurting, angry, afraid, jealous, confused,
Controlled by our twisted leaders.

You would listen patiently
And then you would say,
What about Hitler?

Well, Dad,
I just want to say that lately I’ve been
Revisiting our discussions
About the existence of
Evil as a Spirit,
Because, well, as some of us
Continue to murder
The living spirit of this planet,
As wars continue to be waged,
As oil and gas continue to be drilled,
And sucked out of the sands
And shale of Turtle Island,
Pristine environments ravaged,
Aquifers dried up or irreversibly polluted,
As nuclear arsenals continue to grow,
And the displaced poor all over the world
Are increasingly treated as less than human,
As nature, crippled as she is,
Is forced to cough up more
Meat or gold, or palm oil,
Or whatever the latest addiction is,
I think,
Maybe you had a point, Dad.
Maybe there is an evil Spirit out there
That is possessing certain people.
Otherwise we would have to say,
Something you refused to think,
That Hitler was just being human.

Gary Lindorff