Victor MacGill Chaos and Complexity
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My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

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My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

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Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
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Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
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My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
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Evil and Violence

A talk given at the Dunedin Spiritualist Church in June 2003

When we look at the world of the ancient Greeks, we find they believed in a pantheon or collection of gods. Each god was responsible for a particular part of the world. The Maori also belived in a similar system. Tane is responsible for the forests, Tawhirimatea the winds, Ruaumoko the earthquakes and Whiro diseases and illness.

No matter what happened, it was known which god was responsible.If bad things happened, it was because of what gods of bad things had chosen to do.

The ancient Hebrews who travelled through the desert with Moses met up with the Midianites who had a volcano god the Hebrews claimed for themselevs as well, and they called him Yahweh.

As in so many societies, they made the transition from a belief in many gods, to a belief in one God. They came to this conclusion because they were aware of a unity than lnked all things together.

But, they had a problem. If there was only one God, then who was responsible for Evil.It couldn't be God if God was good, but if it was someone else, then God wasn't fully in control of the world. The solution the Jews found was to say bad things were punishment for disobedience towards God.

Christianity talks more about God giving free will to humans to follow the Devil to do evil deeds. That way god gets to remain good while the Devil is set up as the scapegoat to take on all the evil of the world.

And it is not clear what is actually evil. We will all have our own idea of what is evil and what is acceptable. In fact everything that we would see as evil in our human nature has at some time in our evolution been a necessary part of ourdevelopment. Without the ability to be ruthlessly violent our ancestors would have been killed and eaten by others. Without learning the skills to steal food and resources from others our ancestors also would have died. Lying and cheating are the same.

So what is evil depends on the time, the culture and the circumstances in which the events take place. Generally, whatever we are unable to accept as real in ourselves or in the outside world, we label as Evil.

The big thing I have learned in my life, is that it is through interacting, confronting and coming to terms with what we choose to see as evil in my life, htat I grow and feel more whole, complete and genuine.

So good and evil are complimentary rather than opposites. It is through coping with 'Evil” that we come to know who we really are. Evil only has power when it generates fear, when we are afraid the see ourselves as we really are. On the other hand, when we have the courage to see ourselves as we are, without hiding or denying some part, we are set free.  In the language of mythology, THE DRAGON IS THE PATHWAY TO PEACE. Those people and things we are afraid of, hate, and deny, wish to dominate and control are the very things that give us the experiences that leads us to the treasures we have within oursleves. Listen to the message hidden in the terrifying roar of the dragon. It will lead you to your peace.

Think about what we see as evil in our world. George Bush seems to fit many people's perceptions of an evil person, or perhaps Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. We have recently seen many peace marchers filled with hate for George Bush. It is not until we can accept that who they are and what they do has a reflection within us. To deny George Bush his humanity, is to deny our own.

Walking the path to peace is also the path to forgiveness. Evil loses it hold on us and we become truly free.

I recently read a book called Evil, by Roy Baumeister,  which said some interesting things about how we see evil.

We hide our 'evil' by turning the world into good versus evil and of course we are good and the evil is somewhere out there. It is us against them and therefore we are the victims defending ourselves against a hostile world out to get us. Traditional religions have often seen the world as a battle of good versus evil of us against them, but this only a lie we create in order to deny the 'evil' within us.

It is easier to be violent towards people we see as more different from ourselves.It is easier to see Jews, or blacks or moslems as the cause of our problems than face up to how we may be creating our own problems. In order to be violent to people we need to make them seem as less like ourselves as possible. We must deny their humanity and the common link of humanity we share befre we can be violent.

The perpetrators of crime see themselves as victims fighting back in a justifiable way. Someone else or some group, or the system are seen as causing the problem.. And while there may be some truth in this, the truth is that it is used to justify further destructive action rather than being courageoustaking responsibility for resolving the situation in a more positive way.

The victim consistently loses more than the perpetrator gains. For example when goods are stolen, they are sold for less than their true value. The perpetrator of violence consistently underestimates the amount of damage or hurt they do to the victim. This is partticularly so when we consider the indirect impact on emotions, on friends and family, on the results of having to spend time in hospital, cope without a vehicle, or losing sentimental items.

It is not a surprise to find that the perpetrator of a crime minimises the effects of what they have done, I but what is very interesting, is that research clearly shows that victims maxmise the effects of what was done to them as much as the perpetrator  minimises their actions. The victim has to find a way to save face and one way is to make the actions of the perpetrator seem worse.

In the same way the victim will tend to see the actions of the perpetrator as “coming out of the blue” as being unprovoked, while the perpetrator sees themselves as being pushed into their actions. In reality unprovoked crime is extremely rare. More commonly violence occur after a build up of tension between people, where both are chosing to act in ways that escalate the tension.All too often the only thing that distinguishes the victim from the perpetrator is who finally won the fight.

One of the clear things I have learned in my work as a Probation Officer is that the dynamics that operate in the mind of a criminal are just the same as the dynamics within you and me, but more extreme and with less strength of control over impulses.

So while our actions do not see us appearing in a court of law, we nonetheless play games of perpetrator and victim with each other regularly. We find reasons why our actions are justified and to convinvce ourselves we only protecting ourselves, or forced to act because of outside forces we can't control. We make scapegoats of each other and all of this, so we can avoid having to acknowledge who we really are and the dynamics that eally go on inside ourselves.

Whenever we feel victimised, we need to stop and think of how we might be fueling the dynamics that keep the conflict alive. We need to look behind our actions to look at how we might be the perpetrator.

We usually see evil as something out there. It is us, the good one, against them, the bad ones. In actual fact evil has more to do with Us, the good and the bad against Us the good and the bad. We all see everythiong from our own point of view, which is distorted to make us the right one, the good one.

It is only by having the courage to see beyond the dynamics of us against them that we come to move beyond evil and see ourselves as we really are. Only then do we see our spiritual nature and the truth of the unity of creation.
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