I certainly wasn’t planning to do a blog post on evil, since I enjoy being the love and light girl. But when I woke up this morning, the idea of evil was on my mind. Perhaps it was stimulated by the movie I saw last night. I attended the Northern Arizona premier of the new Independent film “Margin Call,”(presented by the Sedona International Film Festival.) It tells the story of the financial meltdown of 2008 from the perspective of a fictional company given the role in this movie of initiating the sell-off of worthless mortgage assets, a sell-off that ultimately leads to the stock market/ housing market crash that we’re still suffering from today.
What struck me about this excellent, well-acted film were the choices made by nearly every character to “save his or her own skin” even though it meant that many others would be hurt in the end. There were no heroes, nobody trying to help the little guy, no one trying to save anyone else. Money was king and everyone went for it. I call this kind of behavior “jungle consciousness” as it leads to a life about survival of the fittest. In this movie, love of money truly was the root of some pretty serious evil.
But what is evil? The oxford American Dictionary defines it as, “harmful or tending to harm.” It’s also associated by definition with the devil. (Funny, evil is right there in the word.) In Western religious mythology, the devil and the dragon are interchangeable with each other. Since I’m the author of the book, “Dancing with your Dragon: The Art of Loving your Unlovable Self,” I guess I’m on target after all.
In my book, I define the dragon as the “me first” part of us that tends to look out for it’s own needs without taking anyone else into consideration. But, when we act to take care of ourselves first and others happen to be hurt by the fallout, do we have any responsibility in the matter? If we see a building is on fire and run out without letting anyone else know, are we to blame?
The next word that comes to my mind is “altruism”, derived from the Latin Root. “Alteri Huic” meaning “To this other.” Altruism means selflessly caring about someone else. There wasn’t much caring in “Margin Call,” not much love. The most love expressed in the entire movie came from Kevin Spacey and it was expressed to his dog.
Of course it was just a movie, but it reflects an attitude that has roots in some pretty difficult struggles our society is wrestling with right now. The whole idea of every man for himself rests in opposition to the spiritual principle of unity, the mystical experience of bliss and oneness–one species one, one humanity. I often have this experience myself, so I know the truth of it. But I also know there are times when the feeling of oneness seems far away.
The conflict arises when the spiritual and the material oppose one another, rather than working together. Spirit is fluid, boundless and eternal, while objects of the material world, appear, dense, distinct, solid and limited. As human beings, we are both spiritual and material. We exist in both worlds. But when we are caught in “survival” mode, (does that word have evil in it, or is it just my imagination?) sometimes the spiritual part seems far from reach. To put it in simpler terms, my hungry belly does not get full just because a fellow human sits down for a meal. If I want to survive, I have to find the will to eat for myself.
At the physical level we are separate, individual creatures. And as such we each have to make our own choices. When and what do we eat? Do we take responsibility for our own actions, or do we blame others for our situation? Do we act in a way that is just beneficial for our self, or do we act in a way that takes others into consideration as well. Are we just out for what we believe in, or are we willing to allow others their opinions as well.
When we only take the material world into consideration, without also bringing in the spiritual world, we get separated from our soul, from the part that can bring us balance. Our souls can guide us to a place where our daily actions automatically become beneficial to both ourselves and others because our actions are infused with love.
A “Dancing Dragon” is a conscious dragon. Each of us has a selfish, self-centered part and it’s up to each of us to be aware of what it’s up to in any given moment. It’s up to us to ask, are we being helpful or hurtful as we move through the world. Are we making choices just to save our own skin, or do our actions have a spill over affect that actually spreads goodness in the world. It’s my belief that when we care about each other, humanity and unity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact if you add an additional “U” to “hum-a-nity” you get Hum-UNITY.” Perhaps by approaching our daily life with a little more U-nderstanding we can journey to a place where self-interest and the good of the whole can be one and the same.