Francois Tremblay says:
People don’t do things they consider evil.
I find this a fascinating topic for discussion, which is why I’m glad to have an opportunity to blog about it.
A great Russian writer Vladimir Dudintsev discusses this issue in his novel White Garments (it hasn’t been translated into English, unfortunately). According to Dudintsev, people are always aware when they are doing something evil.
Let’s imagine, Dudintsev’s character says to explain this idea, that scientists have discovered that cancer is caused by evil actions we commit or contemplate committing. (Nobody is saying that this, indeed, causes cancer. We all know it doesn’t. This is just a hypothetical.) If we have reliable scientific evidence that every evil act and intention makes us likely to get cancer, don’t you think people will start catching every instance they even begin to contemplate doing something bad? If our lives were at stake, would we not immediately start gauging not only the things we do but even the things we think for their degree of evilness?
Thus, Dudintsev says, any suggestion that people are unaware of the evil nature of their actions is simply not true. Just ask yourself: when you are feeling envious of your friend, when you are planning to undermine a colleague, when you are plotting to do something you know will hurt another human being, do you really and honestly not realize, at least at some level, that your actions are not right?
Of course, we build complex defense systems to rationalize our wrongdoings. However, we always know. I know I do.