In The Road Less Traveled M. Scott Peck distinguishes between laziness and evil. Laziness is refusal to face the real self and evil is militant refusal. Both limit our relationship with ourselves and others but the consequences of laziness are less grave; wasting our potential until we stop postponing the realization of our true self. Laziness often produces symptoms like anxiety, depression, and boredom. These serve as reminders that our true destiny is eluding us. Since the brain interprets ambiguity as danger, the unknown is more frightening than the known. Hence, we often choose to bear those ills we have until the burdens become too great to ignore.
In the case of militant refusal, these people become so estranged from their own truth that they have severed the pathways back to their truer, kinder selves. The end state of that trajectory is evil. The subjective state of evil is emptiness, rage against others, and self-righteousness. Evil avoids self-scrutiny, forgiveness, and truth. It hates “goodness” in all its forms. Those who have crossed the line into evil rarely return because they no longer have any regard for life, including their own. What is even more tragic is that their externalized venom is often directed against the blameless who are symbols of what they have already abandoned in themselves, namely their humanness.
The battle between Good and Evil is not new. It is evidenced throughout history on the world stage and can be found as recently as today in any form of media you choose. A tragic example of the encounter between evil and good recently occurred in Charleston, South Carolina when 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Here a young man who had lost all connection to his true self destroyed nine precious lives who were on a spiritual search for theirs. He was seeking to destroy what he believed was no longer available to him. He had lost faith in himself and the belief that goodness can triumph over evil. Tragically, some precious lives were lost, but he was unable to destroy their spirits. Nor was he able to extinguish the faith of those who were seeking spiritual development through their own connection with God.
Members of the congregation who suffered irretrievable loss of those they loved and cherished acknowledged the tremendous pain but never abandoned their true selves. In response to evil they offered messages of hope, love, forgiveness and grace. Blacks and whites in Charleston came together in a powerful way in their grief and joined each other in love and support. This stands in stark contrast to those who would seek to divide us for their own purpose. For those who seek to divide, we can only hope that their connection with self does not cross the line from laziness into evil.