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May 03, 2023
For Socrates and many Buddhist traditions, the root of all evil is a kind of ignorance–not an ignorance of facts per se, but an ignorance in the soul or psyche. The person truly bent on living well desires peace, equanimity, balance, friendliness, private and collective health. While the sick soul desires superiority, domination, rage and revenge, bitterness and resentment, and a never ending puffing up of ego, always wanting more status, more attention, more stuff, more more more. Of course, Socrates and Buddhist traditions aren’t the only ones to put forth this view. Many of the world’s religions echo something similar. And, though doctrines and dogmas vary wildly, there seems to be some acknowledgement that love is better than power, though the ways of the world try to convince you otherwise. All the honors go the victors of some contest. People will even worship figures at the echelons of athletics, science, or whatever else. Being a good lover is rarely honored or dignified. Being peaceful won’t attract nearly as much attention.
If the sick soul is hell bent on superiority and domination, and feeding on narratives of resentment and bitterness, perhaps the sick society is one in which members are bitterly divided against each other. Typically, there is some target group of people who demonized, and all of the problems of society are laid at their feet. The outsider, the foreigner, the deplorable people. It’s all their fault. Be bitter and rage against them, the narrative goes. If we dominate them into submission, the world will finally be a good place to live.
I would posit to you that much of the world’s failure to integrate stems from these basic forces, but I want to get your thoughts on the matter. What do you think the root of “evil” is? Don’t get caught up on the word evil. Think of it in terms of “strife” or “disharmony”. What, in your view, is the root cause?

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