Often things we can't have interest, infatuate us
The Rev. Paul Taylor, associate pastor, Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive:
Have you watched the reaction of a child when told something is off-limits? They suddenly become focused on what they can't have.
That's called human nature. It started in the Garden of Eden after God told Adam and Eve that one tree - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - was off-limits. Even though there must have been thousands, if not millions, of trees that they could have, they became fixated on the one they couldn't have.
God told them to stay away, not to keep something good from them, but to keep them and mankind from suffering. The tree represented the choice to believe that God was good and knew what he was talking about or rely on their own wisdom and understanding (Genesis, chapter 3).
With the encouragement of the serpent/Satan, they rationalized away God's instructions and decided because it was good for food, pleasant to look at and would make them wise, they both chose to rebel against God's wisdom. All suffering in the world started with that choice.
Since then, the same scenario plays itself out with all mankind. When we give preference to our human wisdom and understanding instead of God's wisdom, we say we know more than the creator, and that's called rebellion. Good parents warn their children away from evil, knowing it may hurt them physically, emotionally or spiritually. Most children dislike having restrictions placed on them.
At the same time, Satan is actively making evil look attractive and pleasurable. He deceives us like he did Adam and Eve. When we believe the truth - that God is trying to protect us - evil loses much of its fascination.
- Send e-mail to Paul Taylor at email@example.com.
Many whom we consider evil think themselves just
Judy Roitman, guiding teacher, Kansas Zen Center, 1423 N.Y.:
Outside of bad guys in movies, I don't think there's anyone who thinks, "I am fascinated by evil! Bwah hah hah!"
Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot all thought that their cause was just. Pedophiles convince themselves that what they do isn't really that bad. Murderers think that what they do is justified because of what others did to them.
So the question isn't why some people are fascinated by evil. Here's the question: Why are some people so deluded?
The answer is this: We all are deluded. In Buddhism it's said that our suffering comes from desire, anger and ignorance. And not just our own suffering. My desire, anger and ignorance cause other people to suffer. That can be the hardest part to accept.
Rather than asking why other people are fascinated by evil, we should look at ourselves and ask how we can cut through our own delusions. How can we not be trapped by our desire, anger and ignorance? How can we stop hurting other people? How can we live our lives in a way that helps instead of hurts?
All our delusions come from the same place - from the belief that we know what's what. In fact we don't. Two people see the same thing and describe it very differently. This isn't relativism. It is how the human mind works. Our minds are shaped by our notion of self, what Buddhism calls the small self. This small self distorts everything. But when we become intimate with our true nature, the small self loses its power.
So the buck starts here, with each of us. Each of us is responsible for exactly our own life. Can we accept this responsibility? No one else can do it for us.
- Send e-mail to Judy Roitman at firstname.lastname@example.org.