Posted by: lecubiste | December 10, 2014

Torture and “The Problem of Evil”

With all the publicity about torture practiced by the US CIA, I an republishing this poem first appearing in my book, The Spirit Fies Free.

The Problem of Evil


What is evil?

A sickness no doubt.

Who is evil?

The other, the enemy, the lout.


We are good; they are bad.

Comes the oft told refrain,

But now comes self-doubt-

We’ve inflicted some pain.


But the pain we inflict is in

The service of good

While the pain that they cause

Comes from evil in the ‘hood.


They are bad, they are evil,

We are wonderfully good.

Is this anything but propaganda?

Can this be credible?  It should


Be, but it’s not and

The difference lies

At the heart of this conflict,

This war. We decry


Our enemies’ methods,

The murder and mayhem,

While our transgressions,

While unfortunate, are justified? Ahem,


Evil is a sickness, a negative pleasure.

We find in our country capital punishment.

Prison rape is common, police beatings documented,

Drug use goes on in many a store front.


What is the purpose of war but to kill?

Purportedly as a preventative measure.

But which side does not believe in its own sacred mission,

To propagate virtue. A paradise of leisure,


If not in this world, then in the next,

Material or spiritual rewards are guaranteed.

All is virtue, all sides are virtuous,

So it is that in themselves all sides believe.


North versus South, East versus West,

Moslem against Christian against Hindu against Jew;

Africa against Europe against Asia against America,

You might as well throw in Australia too.


War could be resolved if beliefs could be tested

In the heat of debate, not the theater of battle.

The values all sides hold in common

Examined, motives expressed, the protection of cattle,


Land, families, traditions and history-

Not demonization of the many by the few;

An open mind and heart toward the other

Such that the full light of truth can show through.


Human beings are by nature good, loving, honest, hardworking, and humble.

This is seen in all cultures as true.

Despotism arises from the ambition for power

In all cultures also found through and through.


The oversimplified concept of good versus evil

Masks the complexity of the cultural mosaic.

This planet contains many populations

In search of growth and a life less prosaic.


Evil does exist but it is perpetuated by

Ignorance, secrecy, and domination,

The trappings of power, the loss of innocence,

The suppression of communication.


We must in all religious humility

Be prepared to confess that we are not gods.

We are none of us perfect, none of us invulnerable

To the accusations of mistakes and frauds.


It may be that we must defend ourselves at times

From the sadistic forces that act out their rage,

Their disenfranchisement, their alienation,

The hallmark of this dog-eared age.


 But virtue in this time looks for opportunities

To bring the world’s cultures together.

Isolation, separation, segregation, indifference-

These tendencies breed anger, violence, and a measure


Of hatred, that old disease,

The fixation and closure of the mind,

The smug reliance on bigotry and prejudice

Instead of rational thinking and a heart that’s kind.


A New Age is coming, a different kind of world,

A time of unity across the globe.

This old age can’t survive instantaneous communication.

Digital cameras and email started this probe.


The Old World is dying, breathing its last gasps,

Struggling in its own death throes.

We are witness to transition on a planetary scale,

The doors of the old power structure will close


As the truth emerges that we’re all the same,

That God is in every culture by some other name,

That cultural differences are often perceptual

That all human traditions seek the same

Virtues, values, family, friendship,

A secure society and a pension benefit.


The opening up of knowledge is the most important event

To herald the coming of this New Age,

The broken down borders of communication

Will allow truth to flow down the mountain with rage.


Thus are we now caught in this flow of events,

Terror and war on every side.

The Earth’s giving birth to a new tomorrow,

The carapace of the past tossed aside.


Evil?  Evil will be seen in a novel light,

An infirmity requiring medicine at every stage

The oft dreamt of world is nearing us,

Enlightenment is emerging, the dawn of a New Age.




Alameda CA,

 I wrote this after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. But isn’t it true, that everybody thinks that they’re in the right.  The process of self-justification has to be reexamined.


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