The Rootlessness of Evil


One of the interesting implications of Hannah Arendt's proposal regarding the rootlessness of evil is spelled out later in the same paper I cited yesterday. The good side of rootlessness is that it is not intrinsic. Humanity is fundamentally good and seriously flawed, but the flaw doesn't go to the root of who we are--it is a serious, potentially fatal wound--but it is not a deformation of the essence of what God originally created.

Now the down side. If evil is rootless, it cannot be radically exterminated by any human means. Something with a root can be uprooted, removed, and destroyed. However, evil is more like a fungus--rootless and vastly destructive of self and others. Ask any of a million Florida homeowners who, after the hurricanes last year had to have the mold in their houses destroyed. This is not an easy procedure.

One way to think about evil is that it is like bacteria--we can introduce an antibiotic, but some strains will survive and eventually prosper in the environment. Tolkien described evil as biding its time, shifting its shape and place, and eventually returning in a form more virulent. We compare the Sauron of The Hobbit in his Mirkwood hiding place with the Sauron of Lord of the Rings. The interesting point here is that the lapse in time is not all that great.

Okay, so we've spell out the worst of it. But what we celebrate this week is the true cure. As anyone can tell you, mold has a serious difficult time growing in the incandescent heat of direct sunlight--the hyphae might still exist "underground" but light and heat are better remedies than anything that can be done in the dark. And it is in this week that we celebrate the brightest light, the greatest heat--the Passion of the Son of God, who by His death and resurrection has set us free. Evil exists all around us, and even has hyphae within us--but if we are open to the Light, it will burn out evil. It will destroy our propensity for self-involvement. When we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, we have the only specific against evil that can be effective. And uniting ourselves to Him means more than lip service, it means taking action. We can talk about the battle between good and evil till the cows come home. The truth of the matter is (as attributed to Edmund Burke in any one of a variety of ways) "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 24, 2005 7:48 AM.

The Danger of the "Rogue Judiciary" Concept was the previous entry in this blog.

Selected Works of Edmund Burke is the next entry in this blog.

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