Wednesday, 15 June 2011

a Moment for Wisdom…


“The God of evil and the God of fear are good friends.”

Maori proverb

Personal Wisdom:

What are your fears? Make a short list…

What do you think of as “evil”? Make a

How do the two lists relate to each other?

Societal Wisdom:

How much of your society is driven by fear? Is that fear mainly in the political, the economic, or the social/cultural realm?

How would your society be different if it were not driven by fear or evil?

a Moment with Sharif…


Over the next few days, I’m sweeping out my “Quotes Cupboard” — using some quotes that I find important yet difficult in some way. (I’m not sure why this quote bothers me. It seems so straightforward… why have I erased it five times?)

Perhaps the difficulty lies in the notion that these concepts of “evil” and “fear” are “Gods”. Well… they are. ANYTHING that you give your power over to is your God. For some people, “God” is a beneficent, powerful being. For others, “God” is personified in their particular wisdom teacher.  Still others see “God” as the processes that make up Creation.

But we all know people who find “God” in a bottle or their recreational drug of choice. (People in the various “Twelve Step” groups learned this – the hard way.) For many, “God”
consists of the digits in their bank account, or their accumulated “stuff”. These false, phony,
inauthentic and ultimately powerless “Gods” litter our mental, emotional and spiritual landscape.

So… this quote is about the relationship between fear and evil. Once we think about it, we can see it. Most of the acts that we would consider “evil” are caused/catalyzed by some state of “fear”. Some are easy to see: the person who robs another, because they are afraid of being without.

But… what about the murderer? The rapist? The bomber (regardless of whether they deliver their bombs with a suicide vest or fighter jet)? The evil of their actions is apparent. Their fears are there – just a lot more complex.

And finally: what does “evil” mean, in the context of a morally bankrupt society? I often use the example of people cutting down square miles of the Brazilian rainforest, so that they can produce yellow pages phone books… that few people want or use. THIS IS AN “EVIL” ACT. The fact that it provides thousands of “jobs” and is sanctioned by various governments and corporate heads does not make it any less evil.

We tend to think “evil” people are like “Bad Bart”, riding into town, guns blazing, shooting people for fun. Yes, that fits the definition.  But, what about all of the people at the phone company, good secure jobs, cranking out useless phone books, year after year. Is the person in Brazil who cuts down the tree as “evil” as the executive who orders it to be cut

And… what are all of them afraid of?




PS: More about “beets” on Friday…


All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.


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