Evil is a Lack of Goodness…Not a lack of God-ness (Why Arianna Grande was correct)

From the desk of Dr. Jonathan Lasson

Headline news! Terror in London…Attacks in Paris…Extremists…Killing in the name of God

Reacting to the recent terror attacks in Manchester, the media informs us that we are confronting a new reality. Terror is widespread and we have no clue as to how to handle it. It is difficult to console the victims. Ariana Grande tweeted after the attacks “From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry. I don’t have words.” The pop singer said the right thing because there are no “words”.

As mental health professionals, we will be asked from time to time, why are some people evil? When people wax theological they might raise the bar and ask why would God create evil people? Although this post is not meant to be a religious discourse on the nature of evil and God’s role in the creation of evil, I will posit that the choice to commit acts of evil is simply that-a choice that man makes-not one created by God.

Dr. Richard Geraghty, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, correctly points this out in a piece he wrote on evil and God. In that piece, he describes the term “privation” by using an analogy to blindness. Blindness is the “lack of a quality-a defect-an imperfection”. Evil is also a “privation“. It is a lack of quality called ‘goodness’ that people should have.

We try to teach our children that people are essentially good. When people of hate teach children the opposite they are causing privation. Although there is no simple answer to fighting terror, the choice is up to man. If religious schools were to replace their teachings of hate with teachings of goodness, children will grow up in a better world. Let us work to rewrite the lessons of hatred and fill our children’s textbooks and minds with lessons of goodness and love. When there is hate…there is nothing to debate.

And yes, Ariana…there are NO words!