When Evil Becomes Normal
When Evil Becomes Normal
An individual’s intentions and actions can be placed into one of two categories: good or evil. The standard by which something can be determined as good or evil comes from the internal morality placed within each human from the divine counsel of God. In a natural environment, evil deeds go against the grain of the mankind’s intuition. So then, the task at hand is to dive deeper into what allows man’s heart to be hardened to the point where evil becomes the new normal.
In order to better understand the psychological process of perpetual wickedness within an individual’s mind, one must begin with a study of moral development. In the book, Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior, a section is dedicated to this very idea. According to Lawrence Kohlberg, there are three main categories for moral thinking: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. The first stage, pre-conventional, makes the subject aware of the consequences from their action; this is not so much a problem of right and wrong, but a matter of getting caught and suffering negative consequences. The second stage, conventional, pushes an individual in a direction based on their pursuit to please others. The third stage, post-conventional, is where individuals experience a higher ethical code that forces them to consider all outcomes and live by a conduct that better cares for those around them. The ideal situation would have someone graduate through the stages until they reach the post-conventional stage.
Unfortunately, many will not progress through the various stages of moral development. This leaves the individuals vulnerable to staying at the first stage, which only prohibits wicked deeds on the basis of getting caught, and not on the basis of staying true to a moral compass. This provides evil with ample opportunity to burrow and grow within a human. If someone were to contemplate a bad deed, and know they could get away with it, then there would be nothing stopping that person from proceeding forward. This is only the beginning of a seared conscience.
The prophet of old, Jeremiah, agonized when he expressed his feelings toward the individuals around him. God, through the prophet, spoke, “are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:15). Jeremiah was prophesying to a people who were born from a rebellious generation (poor moral development), constantly worshipped idols (practiced evil consistently), and loved themselves with great egos even to the point of rejecting God for the sake of keeping their own identity (bad motive). Because of this, they forgot how to “blush,” and their conscience was seared.
The New Testament is filled with warnings against those who have broken consciences, due to their constant practice of sin (1 Timothy 4:2). Fortunately, there is always an opportunity for one to break the habit of bad and embrace the life of good. It all comes down to proper assessment, treatment, and the willingness of the individual.