Thursday, October 21, 2010

Right Through Every Human Heart

"It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil. . . . If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But 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?”

-Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archapelago

Steve posted this in the comments over at Slacktivist. I've never read the book (though I may have to, now), but I'm reposting it here because it fits so neatly with my thoughts on why a certain strain of Christianity seems so sure that Halloween is Satanic.

There are people who truly believe that the evil in the world comes from "evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds", and who therefore spend their lives trying to "separate them from the rest of us and destroy them." To be honest, I think that desire - profoundly misguided and destructive though it is - is at the heart of the Tea Party's politics. They really do want to make the world better, but this pernicious misconception, this idea that evil is something that Other People do, makes their attempts to do good not only ineffective, but actually counterproductive.

I'm sure there's more to the dynamic than that - there always is - but this strikes me as a big part of it.

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