The Evil That Men Do

A Persian sage once said that the greatest oppression a person experiences in life is mental oppression.

The body is but a chariot and takes us to where the mind or soul leads it; it executes thoughts and aspirations and as it finally crumbles down into dust, the soul merges with the Absolute and continues to influence earthlings from the other side of the universe.

The mind is therefore the mightiest force that nature has ever produced and contains within it the capacity to create and destroy.

This mental force, whose power stretches into the dim ranges of creation, is the greatest gift bestowed by the creator to Earthlings that through it they may carry forward a sustainable civilization.

Alas, the same human being endowed with such a mighty power uses it against his fellow man to extinguish it. Man is the only animal that takes away the freedom of his neighbor for no known reason other than pure sadism.

 That is why, when in a Tigrinya children story, the snake was refused lodging in a village house because he was deemed too dangerous, he is reported to have said: “I may be evil okay, but I assure you that I don’t consider myself more evil than man….” And he was right.

In the mind of the tyrant, who is more evil than our snake, men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed. He is here either to kill or to maim.

One of the most bizarre properties of the mind is its capacity to change its form and see light in darkness and moisture in dryness, where pain and suffering re-appear as liberators, where injustice is seen as purification of the soul and humiliation looks like the only path to victory.

The idea that man is created to suffer, a doctrine dear to many Hindus and Christians and exemplified by the life of prophets and gurus, is not hidden to the tyrant. If he considers himself Godlike, then suffering is the inherent right of the masses.

And then along came Nietzsche who killed God simply in order to put the tyrant in His place, a superman of sorts who would unleash his evil powers on the weaklings. Such thoughts mass-produced Hitlers, Mussolinis, Stalins and Saddams and sent them to accomplish their ‘divine’ missions throughout the world.

During the heyday of the totalitarian regimes in Europe and Asia, the science of mind control was given much attention with the sole purpose of enslaving the masses.

When the state thinks for your good and cares for your social, economic and even spiritual salvation, what need is there for a thinking and inquisitive mind which can only create trouble and disturb public peace?

Thus, the state deems it only too proper to appropriate the mind of the masses for the good of the people and for the “straight path” that leads to national and political salvation.

As for those who want to continue to think despite the warning, there are many ways to make them mend their ways, one of which is “brain washing” before sending them to jail where zombies are manufactured as eloquent witnesses to the people.

With the rebellion thus silenced the state continues on its way of stunted growth until the tyrant dies and civil unrest erupts as a matter of course. That is when tyrants are remembered with nostalgia because “during their reign, there was at least peace and order…” Aye bgzie Dejach Hailu kitiem znebere! (Oh how we enjoyed life during the reign of Count Hailu..) Why? Simply because now a monster more horrendous than the previous one has assumed power. Men tend to forget.

During the reign of terror however, the court dogs (who, to quote Churchill, have all the characteristic of a dog except faithfulness) have learned to wag their tails, salivate at the very mention of economic progress made during public speeches, and to lick their master’s boots every time they are kicked about for minor offenses. The moment the tyrant dies however, they exchange allegiances. Their faithfulness is just on the outside.

Anyway, after a few years under a despot, the mind will have shriveled so much that it enjoys slavery as its birthright and pain at its lot…. there is more darkness at the end of the tunnel than at the entrance. Hallelujah!

Once upon a time there was a man who was sentenced to serve 40 years in prison for manslaughter. He killed because that’s what he trained his mind to do, but later he changed his ways. As a result his jail term was reduced to 25 years.

The wise convict learned to read and paint in his cell. He talked to the birds that alighted on the sill of his prison window and contemplated the clouds that floated in the blue yonder. He even fell in love with the tree on the courtyard.

Finally he became a philosopher in spite of himself and tried to explain the intricacies of life to the bewildered prison warden.

“Do you know that man is mystery to himself” he would say to the prison warden.

 “I am sorry but there is nothing mysterious about prisoners!” would reply the prison ward. “They are simple criminals and deserve to get punished on time.”

The prisoner tried to explain that the spirit is free even if caged and confined. Finally, unable to find a plausible explanation for an unjust world, he restored to a mystical interpretation of injustice and eventually accepted imprisonment as the other aspect of liberty and ended up by becoming a masochist: he accepted suffering as the final reward for the betterment of man’s temporal life and learned to love the unloved.

“The only way to happiness is through suffering…” he used to say.

After 20 years in prison, he began to see the warden as his personal savior, and the more the latter despised him, the more the prisoner loved him.

One day, the prison warden was no more and was replaced by a bear of man who was given to drinking and the use of bad language. He walked in a strange manner and looked at the prisoner as something to satisfy his basic appetites: the new prisoner warden was a certified gay.

When one rainy day the new prison warden fell upon his victim and sodomized him, the prisoner’s mental attitude changed in ways that surprised even the warden.

It was as if the gates of heaven flanged their gates open for him. He wept and kissed his aggressor’s hands and hugged him and accepted him as his savior.

“What have I done for you to deserve such praise?” asked the new prison warden.

“You just explained to me in a vivid language what intimate love really means.” sighed the prisoner.

This strange relationship between victim and oppressor went for some years when one fine morning the prisoner was told he was free.

“Free?” asked the prisoner. “What is freedom?”

You are free to walk the streets and buy decent meals and sleep on sponge mattresses. Look, the gates are open and the world is right out there waiting for you” explained the prison administrator. So go, go….

Finally everybody tried to explain to the dumbfounded prisoner the many virtues and uses of freedom and liberty. Some even quoted the Declaration of Independence and made references to various philosophers and sages.

Convinced for the time being, the prisoner stepped out of the iron gate and marched right in front of him in a dazed state.

“Freedom?! What is freedom after all without my beloved warden? What is life without a big brother giving orders? What is life if not a regimented existence? What is life if not a master-slave relationship?

Right in front of him stretched the blue sky with the hovering falcons playing hide and seek in the clouds. An airplane roared above and the siren of a distant factory filled the air with a melancholic tune.

Freedom was in front of him with all its worldly splendor, but he could not see it, neither could he smell it. They have eyes but they see not, they have ears but they hear not.

The wind of freedom buffeted against his newly acquired clothes and the song of the birds along with the distant barking of dogs tugged at his heart and knocked on the doors of his fading memory.

“Freedom?! Do you call this freedom?” he said to himself. “This is nothing but tyranny in its pure form…”

While in prison his mind had been turned upside down and inside out. While in prison he learned to adore the despicable and considered his enemy his savior. While in prison his senses of dignity and humanness had left him for good. He saw pleasure in pain, pride in degradation and fulfillment in emptiness.

He missed the shame and servility to which he had been deeply accustomed while in prison. He had been addicted to slavery and total submission to his masters.

He stopped and paused to think. He decided to turn back and ask forgiveness of the prison warden.

There will be more joy in the house of tyranny over a repentant rebel than over the perpetual submission of the prison inmates …

That is how tyrants rule over the lives of their subjects.

That is how tyrants play with the soul of their slaves.

It needs more than a prophet to bring lost souls back to their senses.

Lucky are those who march straight in front of them once they are out of prison gates, for with steady steps and stopping their ears lest they get beguiled by the sirens of abject servility, they may reach the land of freedom, and struggle to bring their victimized brothers and sisters to the shores of freedom and human dignity without asking help of a guru or that of a visionary.


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