What is evil? That is something wise men have discussed for ages. Some find it hard to define, or even deny its existence all together. Yet it is obvious that there is a measurable standard of what is evil, human history points to that, despite what some may say. Things such as murder, cannibalism, stealing, etc. have been condemned throughout most cultures. In fiction, like in the real world, those who are evil often see themselves as good, but making hard decisions for the greater good.Few people who are evil see themselves as evil, in fact the most monstrous people still carried on typical lives. Well I’m not sure about some such as Elizabeth Bathory, but I’ve seen videos of Nazi SS men talking with their families and having what looked like a normal day. These men of course took part in the holocaust, that is what’s so chilling. Evil can be subtle, not all monsters always appear to be monsters. In a time when morality is often seen as relative by the masses, how will they identify someone who is evil? Will the evil person be ignored by someone or something that is seen as a greater threat?
This is something that has been seen in fiction. One notable example, the rise of Palpatine to power in Star Wars. While everyone thought the Separatists were the main threat, all the while their own leader was plotting to seize power.
I have said before, good fiction mirrors reality and speaks deep truths, even harsh truths. It seems like so many people are married to ideology and incapable of empathizing with other perspectives. When things get to that point how will they recognize evil? In Star Wars they didn’t, the same goes for countless other works of speculative fiction. Maybe we need to be able to discuss things better, understand one another better, before fiction becomes reality. We don’t have to agree, but empathy breeds understanding. Without understanding we are opening the door for evil to come in unseen.
Let us learn from fiction.