(As published in The Armenian Observer, October 8, 2014)
I sit in front of the glare of a computer screen with my hands on a keyboard trying to sort through a maze of thoughts that run through my assumed three pounds of brain mass, which sometimes weighs me down. Thoughts run wild in the midst of the chattering background of the television tuned to a news channel. There is too much going on in the world for me to ignore. There are news reports and footage of ISIS/ISIL, their devilish ways, and the excitement over the growth of a coalition to destroy it. Whoopee, we will fight evil. In March of 2003, we invaded Iraq to get rid of evil, or what we thought was the worst of evils. Today, ISIS tops the chart that defines evil. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s definition of evil “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” gives me food for thought. It appears I must thicken or broaden that fine line that divides the good and evil in me and in all of us. Abdu’l-Baha’s definition puts me a little more at ease. “…all the qualities and admirable perfections of man, are purely good, and exist. Evil is simply their nonexistence.” That’s wonderful, I think to myself, I cannot be evil because somewhere inside me exist qualities stemming from good thoughts to be admired. Then I read Buddha who defines evil as, “Killing is evil, lying is evil, slandering is evil, abuse is evil, gossip is evil: envy is evil, hatred is evil, to cling to false doctrine is evil; all these things are evil.” This one makes me think a little deeper. I know that I have lied at some point in my life (who hasn’t?); and gossip? Much as I shy away from it, I am surrounded by it. “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing,” said Albert Einstein. In his words and by his definition, the Coalition of countries cannot be evil if they are doing something about the current, depraved rancor, heinous, poisonous contagion of ISIL.
For the most part, my personal belief on this, or any subject, is not of particular importance to society. But I do believe it is important to the values that make me accountable to the principles that govern us. I have to believe in the rule of law. I have to believe that good abides by rules and laws, and that these laws are the treasury that govern us, safeguard our values and ultimately crown a victory over evil.
My thoughts are interrupted as my eye catches the split screen on my computer alerting me to an email that comes in. It is from my friends in Armenia. “Rally in Yerevan: Domestic Violence Awareness,” reads the headline. My friends from Datev Outreach, and the Women’s Support Center are working with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women to bring about a change in legislation that recognizes violence toward women (and men) as unacceptable. I am pleased. Changes are being made, albeit slow. Public awareness is increasing. Young women and men are going against the tide of what was acceptable by challenging the status quo, and by refusing to take as an answer “that’s just how things are.” The truth is that domestic violence has neither geographic borders, nor social hierarchy. It touches us all. We hear of it in the news on a daily basis, and very possibly, we each know of a friend, sister, daughter, mother or colleague who’s experienced or is experiencing abuse. This violence has long been considered a “family” problem, private, behind closed doors, shielded and hidden. Protected by silence – everyone’s silence—it only intensifies. However, with all the recent abuse and violent behavior situations surfacing in the social media, it has become identified as a social problem, and public awareness is beginning to demand a better explanation than “that’s just how things are.”
I believe in standing up and accepting nothing less than changing legislations that protect under the rule of laws. I believe in a unified front, a coalition that does not stand alone against “those who make this world a dangerous place.” I believe in the rule of law meant to guard and keep our values safe. I believe in the words of Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”