Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Evil: Unpunished, Or Its Own Punishement?

I seem to have confused everyone the last time I talked about one of my classes. Be warned: I talk about one of my classes in today's blog post!


My Philosophy of Evil class is very interesting, even if the readings we've had so far haven't been. There are a lot of different ideas about evil, and I'm not sure how to get them to come together to form a coherent picture.

For example, here are two well-known ideas about evil that don't seem to agree--evil is its own punishment, and evil is largely unpunished.

1. Evil Is Its Own Punishment

Evil is its own punishment; if you choose to do something evil, you are basically choosing to be punished. "Karma" is the most popular term for this idea today; Karma says that if you do something bad, something bad happens to you. Aesop shows this well in his story of the Greedy Dog:

Once upon a time, there was a very Greedy Dog. He was walking down the road one day, when he saw a smaller dog who had a steak for lunch.

"Gimme your steak!" the Greedy Dog said.

The small dog offered to share his lunch, but the Greedy Dog wanted the steak all to himself, so he started barking and scared the little dog away. He then took the steak and decided to take it to his home, on the other side of a river. When he was going across the bridge, he saw his reflection in the water.

"It's another dog!" he thought. "And he's got a steak that looks bigger than mine! I want it!"

The Greedy Dog started barking to scare the other dog away, and the steak fell out of his mouth and into the river. So it was that the Greedy Dog ended up having no lunch at all that day, just like he deserved. The end.

There are several morals to the story, such as "Greedy people are never satisfied with what they have", but the traditional moral is "sin inevitably brings its own punishment". Nobody punished the Greedy Dog; he brought his punishment upon himself. Hence, we can see that when someone chooses to be evil, the person will inevitably be punished for it.

Aesop has several other stories along these lines, such as the boy who cried wolf. The boy lies so often to the townsfolk about the wolf that, as a result, no one believes him, even when he tells the truth. Like the Greedy Dog, the Lying Boy brings this punishment upon himself. He chose to do evil and deceive others, and he suffered the consequences of this evil action.

I could give examples that aren't from children's stories, but I'm trying to keep things simple. If you're bad, you're sure to get punished for it. That's karma, right?

However, this view is almost the exact opposite of another common idea about evil:

2. Evil Largely Goes Unpunished

There seem to be an awful lot of evil people in the world who don't get punished. You've probably met some people like this, people who do bad things but don't get in trouble for it.

The most common example of this today are politicians who boldly and publicly lie about what they'll do during election time. Then, when they're in office, they do the exact opposite of what they promised. That's lying, but the politicians seem to be rewarded with lives of luxury, instead of being impeached like they should be.

This is not just true for today; it seems this has always been the case throughout history. As the psalmist says, "The wicked spring up like grass, and all who do evil thrive" (Psalm 92). Evil dictators like Napoleon, Caesar and Hitler managed to get away with killing millions of innocent people for a very long time before they were eventually stopped.


So what do you guys think? Do you think evil people tend to be punished, or do you think that evil people tend to get away with their own misdeeds? Should I write more about this topic, or leave it here?


Anonymous said...

Wow lots to say. First off thanks for keeping it simple. Second I think a lot of people go unpunished. ALOT of people. And lastly I think you should just leave it at here cause about everyone will be lost at the second part and only think about pretty unicorns and rainbows. LOL-Ethan

Emma said...

^^Hahaha true.

Anonymous said...

i think karma applies to the good people do. for example, my aunts husband died a few years ago and she had always been so nice to people that they were all very supportive and helpful to her. good examples about how evil goes unpunished with politicians.

detective said...

I love reading your blog but i was wondering would you read mine?
I know you are being awsome and writing your blog and your off the web life too but once you get the chance i would love to hear from you.

Katia said...

It is an interesting subject. I think that it's fifty fifty; some get punished for bad things and others don't. I also think you should post more about this subject.

Anonymous said...

Well I think you should post whatever you want cause it's your blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a thought-provoking post. These are my honest beliefs on the subject, it's what the Bible says:
Evil is always punished sooner or later. It's true that some people appear to go unpunished, but in the end, they will have to face God on the Judgement Day, and they will get eternal punshment. Sometimes they are punished sooner, because bad actions always bring bad consequences, and evil people never get to experience true happiness, which is a pretty bad punishment.

I'm not trying to make a speech, I just felt like sharing my thoughts.

Feel free to post more on this subject, it is your blog, after all! :)

Sofia said...

Well, at least I understood this one.

I totally believe in karma. I think that all evil is punished, even if it isn't punished right away. For every politician that scams and lies their way into office, at some point it'll come back to them. What goes around comes around. Sometimes it just takes longer to come around. For example, I'll tell you a little story that happened to me in school today. [It's a true story, by the way.]

Okay, so, there's this kid whom I have a lot of classes in during school, so, we hang out and are somewhat friends. I teased him about something at lunch today. So, after that I got up to go get a snack from the vending machine, snack gets stuck. So the kid I made fun of starts saying, "Karma. Karma. Karma." To me every two seconds. And after a while, it got quite annoying. So the kid wouldn't shutup about it and was obviously showing off. So, at the end of the day, when I was at my locker, the kid is still yelling, "Karma! Karma! Karma!" So these four kids run up to him and randomly steal his books. They run away, the kid runs after them, they shove the kid into a locker.And I left the scene, with a smug smile on my face and said, "Karma."

So...yup. That's karma for you.
Wow. ;D's your blog. Post whatever you want, I'm sure you'll find a way to make it awesome-tastic.

Anonymous said...

haha funny story lol^^^^^

Anonymous said...

I being very religious believe both. Those who purposely do evil will at some point in time one way or another be punished. But even if somebody managed to go there whole life without punishment. The bible says it is not man's place to judge but rather god's. On the day of judgment. God will judge fairly by people's hearts and their actions.

-Kyle Forsyth

HetalliShinoTheCritic said...

OHHHH i know that greedy dog story! i don't know where I heard it but, yeah :D

RINTX said...

Thanks for your blog. My dd loves to read your posts and likes to talk about her faith with me. You are reaching young people even here. It's a confusing world out there, thanks for what you do.