No matter how hard you try you can’t exterminate evil. Here’s why.
It’s been said that if the world were to be wiped out by a nuclear holocaust that the only thing left would be cockroaches.
I’m not sure if that’s true, but it makes sense. Cockroaches are numerous, adaptive, and can easily be tucked away in places that would be unaffected by a nuclear blast.
In a lot of ways cockroaches are like evil… mainly because they are cockroaches… but also in the fact that they are resistant to being destroyed. In fact, have we ever tried? Of course not. Why? Because it would basically be impossible.
You can’t exterminate evil. So why do we keep trying?
The War on Wars?
We have created wars on almost everything. The war on drugs. The war on poverty. The war on crime. The war on terrorism. Maybe one day we’ll create a war on wars.
Like cockroaches not only do all of those things we are fighting survive, they seem to be stronger than ever. Maybe war isn’t the best way to deal with real life issues. After all, rush hour may be a pain in the ass, but I’m not sure that a war on traffic is really going to solve the problem.
Maybe instead of conjuring ideas of weapons and violence, we need a more strategic approach. Maybe we need to stop trying to kill what we don’t like and instead focus on something that makes things better.
You can’t exterminate evil, but you remove its effect. To do it, we have to take a different approach.
Focus and Pink Elephants
Before we go any further, do not think of pink elephants. Get pink elephants out of your mind. We need to fight pink elephants and get rid of all pink elephants so we never think about pink elephants.
Actually, we need to take a boat ride. We need to get out on the water and have a great day. We might enjoy the sun, maybe go for a swim, or possibly go water skiing.
Now let me ask you two questions. Were you thinking about pink elephants when I told you not to? Were you thinking about pink elephants when we talked about boats?
The thing about a war on anything is it focuses us on what we don’t want. It doesn’t work. We can’t exterminate evil, particularly with a war on it. What we must do is replace it, just like we replaced the idea of a pink elephant with the idea of going boating. To replace it we must find out what’s causing it and fix it. Let’s look at the war on drugs as an example.
Racism and Clarity
The war on drugs was created by President Nixon as a way to keep minorities in check. It was racially motivated and was used as a tool for mass incarceration of minorities. This mass incarceration has led to the US having the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Despite the war on drugs, drug use, drug cartels, and more have only increased. You can’t exterminate evil, and any pretense that this effort was to improve our lives has been revealed to be false.
In fact, as more white people are now succumbing to the opioid epidemic, we are seeing a call not for war, but for a way to fix the actual problem. That fix doesn’t call for extermination; it calls for something else.
We can focus all day on the problem. We can blame people, throw people in jail, go to war figuratively and literally, but we still will be focusing all our effort on a lost cause. The problem is not the pink elephant but the thing that put the pink elephant in your mind to begin with.
People don’t turn to drugs because everything is okay. They turn to drugs because something is missing. When we focus on drugs, we miss the problem. We try to remove the drugs, but all the time is spent focusing on the very thing we are trying to avoid.
You will never remove all the evil in the world. You can’t exterminate evil. There will always be another evil around the corner. As long as we focus on the evils, we lose.
Instead, give people what they truly crave: hope, purpose, meaning, love. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Show people they matter. You can fight the symptom all day long, but until you treat the problem, the only thing you’ll exterminate is any hope of making things better.