Evil is born in the gap. The gap isn’t anyone’s
private possession. The gap contains collective
responses and collective themes. When an entire
society accepts the theme of “the outsiders” who
cause all the trouble, then evil has everyone for
a father and mother.
Yet in every case of mass evil, there were thousands
of people who didn’t identify with the collective
impulse – they resisted, escaped, hid, and tried
to save others. It’s individual choice that
determines whether you latch on to the collective
theme and agree to play it out.
The second question, “How could innocent people
become the victims of atrocities?” is more difficult,
because almost everyone’s mind is already closed.
The questioner doesn’t want a new answer. There is
too much righteous anger, too much certainty that
God turned his back, that no one wanted to risk
their own lives to stop the enormous evil being
done to others.
As long as I am overcome by anguish or righteous
anger or horror, my ability to choose has been
shut down. What I should be free to choose is
purification, a return to innocence made possible
by the shock of what happens when innocence isn’t
You and I are responsible for our participation in
the elements of evil even though we don’t act out
those elements on a mass scale. Believing in them
keeps our participation going. So it’s our duty to
stop believing in “harmless” anger, jealously, and
judgment of others.
Is there some mystical reason why an innocent person
becomes the target of evil? Of course not. People who
talk about the karma of victims as if some hidden fate
is bringing down a rain of destruction are speaking
When an entire society engages in mass evil, outer
chaos reflects inner turmoil. The shadow has erupted
on a mass scale. When this happens, innocent victims
are caught in the storm, not because they have some
hidden karma but because the storm is so overwhelming
that it engulfs everyone.
.. Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).