The Root of All Evil

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There really is a “root of all evil”, you know. It’s not money, despite what the Bible says. It’s also not greed, or fear, or hate, or ambition. It’s self-centeredness. Virtually every act of evil, and every evil thought, from the little mundane daily evils like road rage and petty theft all the way up to things like racism, murder and acts of terrorism have their origins in self-centered thinking. There are a couple very rare, very specific exceptions to this (insanity for one), but I invite you to think on the forms of evil you’ve either committed or witnessed. The specific motivations can be broad, complicated, and varied, but the absolute reduction of it all comes down to one simple circumstance: considering one’s own needs and desires over those of others. The opposite of empathy.

Here’s why I bring this up… 

We have an epidemic of selfishness in America right now. It’s the “Me” generation. And I don’t feel the need to get into listing all the evidence because I think we all pretty much know it. It’s just, I don’t think everyone sees it as a problem. We worship the self. We’re empowered by our worship of the self. It’s America’s new true religion. Thanks to the internet we all of us have a voice to broadcast (haha, look at me!), and it’s made us all the star of our own movie.

There’s a man campaigning for president right now who – let’s just confront this together – will very likely win the position, and he’s a cartoon exaggeration of a self-centered narcissist. For decades before the start of his political campaign, he was a national joke. A real life Mr. Burns/Scrooge McDuck caricature of a pompous, rich asshole with a laughably self-conscious hairstyle who festooned everything in sight in gold and whose favorite phrase was “you’re fired”. He had a story arc on WWE wrestling. A reality TV show.

I feel like I’m belaboring an obvious point, but at the same time I’m astonished by how vast a segment of the nation seems to have completely forgotten who this man is to us. They’ve clearly forgotten, because they’re ready to vote for him. They’re excited to vote for him. And it’s not as if he shed his made-up media persona a la Stephen Colbert and said, “OK, but seriously now…”. He only leaned more into his boastful, petty, insulting, delusional personality.

This is what people are responding to.

Oh, they’ll give you all sorts of reasons why they want this clown to be the leader of our entire country. “He’ll fix the economy by running it like a corporation, and cutting out all the corruption and inefficiency that’s set in over the years!” 2 “He’ll be a tough, take no prisoners fighter for our national supremacy against foreign enemies!” 3 “He’ll put an end to all the bullshit political correctness that’s ruining this country!”4 Thousands have been manipulated to believe these things are actually true (the biggest lie is the one people are more likely to believe), but I don’t think these justifications really paint a truthful picture of his popularity.

They see a reflection of themselves in him. They see all the opinions, thoughts, and beliefs that society has declared as evil being used to achieve success, and it feels good (see footnote #4). “This presidential candidate may be laughably unqualified, extremely unlikable, and a laughing stock to most of the free world, but he’s telling me it’s OK to think the things I think. He’s telling me it’s OK to think we should build a giant wall between us and Mexico, that we should refuse to let Muslims live in US, that women aren’t as good as men and should be punished for having abortions, and he’s making me laugh when I does it.”

I used to think the popularity of this candidate was all a direct reflection of the complete loss of faith in our government, but now I see I wasn’t looking deep enough. That’s just an external justification for what’s really the root of it all: Selfishness. He has found a way to wield the root of all evil as a tool, and invite us all to revel in it like pigs in mud. And we don’t have a candidate charismatic enough to make us believe that the power of hope is greater. 5

So, we’re going to elect a narcissistic, childish ego maniac with the personality of Mr. Burns, Kanye West and Biff Tannen put together. Fine. Sometimes, when a child begs for long enough for a taste of your whiskey, you just have to let them have it so they know how much they’re gonna hate it.


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