Evil is a terrifying and powerful word. Rarely would I use it to describe a person. Hitler, Stalin, Attila – there are people from history that others will bring up as examples of evil. However, even then, something in me falters. Using that descriptor seems hateful and condemning even if the person did awful things. Then again, I am the girl who winces when orcs die in The Lord of the Rings because I wish they would have repented and turned good.
However, people usually declare that murder, rape, abuse, and kidnapping are evil. There are few things that we all agree upon as a society, but being against these actions seems to be one of our similarities. You can argue what that means to different people (for example, when is killing in self-defense or war justified), but the general rejection of these actions carries through most (if not all) cultures and societies despite different laws, values, and religions.
Back to evil, I still hate using that word. My mother taught me early on the power of language especially regarding words such as hate, ugly, etc. Thus, it makes sense that I would not use such a powerful noun or adjective lightly.
However, the other day at the movie theater, I witnessed an act of evil firsthand that broke my heart. It has been haunting me ever since, and I am writing about it to shed light on how people in everyday life around us can do despicable things. Evil is not something that is far off in another country where people are being killed, enslaved, or tortured; it happens in our own cities and near our own homes.
Two young men in their early twenties came down the hall of the theater, dragging a little girl behind them. She could not have been more than 4-years-old. The nervous laughter of the men contrasted with the child’s sobbing. Confused, I stood and watched them walk toward me.
“Are you scared?” One of the men questioned, smirking at his friend. The girl was crying too much to respond.
“Should we go watch Barbie now?” The words of the man felt like a swift punch in the gut. They had just taken a toddler to see Annabelle, the R-rated horror film about a demon-possessed doll. Adults had been commenting on how scary even just the trailer had been, much less the film. Taking a child, a little girl who probably plays with dolls, is truly horrifying, wrong, twisted. . .evil.
I asked if I could help them, wishing to grab the child and hug her or at least give her a free treat. The men just laughed uncomfortably before shaking their heads. As they exited, I heard one say, “Don’t tell Mommy.”
Bam. That is evil. It really is.
Perhaps that little girl will be fine. Maybe she will forget this ever happened. However, that film could spark something she could deal with for the rest of her life. Plus, who knows what other media she is seeing at such a young and vulnerable age?
I cannot judge those men for all of their actions. All that I witnessed was one moment in their lives. However, what they did was truly evil. There is just no getting around that fact. If someone tried to argue that with me, I probably would actually put up a fight despite my fear of conflict. That father and his friend are not evil, as far as I know, but their choice to take a small child into an R-rated film and hide the fact from her mother was very wrong.
We need to be aware of the evil that is happening around us and not be afraid to name it. Bullying, domestic abuse, harassment, manipulation, extortion – all of these are wrong and sadly happen near us frequently. Despite our differences, we can stand together against many of these evils that must come to an end.