Yes, last time I made a plea for a positive view of one' s fellow man, on the assumption that the best is actually to be found in every person, although of course it does not always come out, but that one can immerse oneself in the high moral qualities of one' s fellow man. And when I had spoken of this, I felt the need afterwards to bring a certain balance in this and I will today put more emphasis on the other side in the human being. Because of course you cannot escape the fact that humans cannot only be a morally high being, but that in us humans there is also the possibility of terrible evil. And we live in a time, maybe it is always like this on earth, in which there are many reports indicating that evil is present in people, so there is no way around it. When you look at, listen to, the messages about the war, then - well, if you then assume that it is all really the case, what you receive, I will leave that aside for the moment - you see that the most terrible things happen and it is of course always the case that those terrible things are more evident on the offensive side than on the defensive side; that has always been the case in all wars and you see it again now. But today I felt the need to take a closer look at the badness, the evil in man, and one sees that when a person is put in a certain situation where the original tendency for goodness cannot flourish, when the circumstances are such that it is not possible at all, then the lowest drives can come to the fore and they can really live out. One can imagine that this is further supported by a group event. This is true in a war situation. But of course, in our time, we also have to deal with a lot of reports about people's behaviour in more or less normal life, where boundaries are crossed and one can' t help but be surprised. And apparently this boundary is not so clear to everyone, or it is also the case that under certain circumstances - for example because one has drunk a lot or because one is in a group where a certain mood strikes - one can end up doing things that one later regrets. Although sometimes one gets the idea that people are also proud of that. Maybe they even carry that around with them as a sort of trophy. I do not know to what extent that is actually the case. But it is clear that when you look at human beings, not only does an impulse to good live in them, but also a tendency to evil can be awakened - I suspect in every human being. It all depends, of course, on how strong the person is in his awareness of good and evil and in his control of the lower forces that can so easily come up like a storm in people. I wonder, for example, when we look at politics. We have now suffered for a number of years under Corona, but we have also suffered under the politics that had a voice there, and yes, you will know that I have not always been positive about what politics does, has done, in the whole Corona issue. But when you then look at the people, the leaders, then you really wonder: do these people never have a question in themselves about what this means in a higher sense? Do they really have no faith at all in, for example, an afterlife, where you have to imagine that after death you will face judgment? How does that work with people? Does he ignore it in himself? Or does he not have that voice? Is there such a conviction that life ends at death, that in fact in life you only keep your decency because you are afraid of your superiors, or fear the police or the judge or whatever, but not because you have a feeling in yourself that in the end you will appear before a completely different kind of court, where you will have to atone for what you have done to other people? I cannot imagine that it does not occur to people. But it seems that it is not the case, that it is still possible that one gets dragged into a certain course of events or even sets them in motion and that one does not have these considerations. I saw a propaganda film about the world economic forum, I think it was about a year ago, it could have been longer. It was a film in which a film crew was admitted in a certain year and a lot of recordings were made of what happens there, and there were also film recordings of Klaus Schwab. And actually, when you see this man at work, to me it is like seeing a rather committed older man at work, who also has a number of ideas that, from a general human point of view, you really can't say no to. And when he was interviewed at a certain point, the interviewer asked him to write down in one word what he actually sees as the root cause of all the problems in the world. Well he had no hesitation, he grabbed the pencil and immediately wrote down: egoism. Well, you can't say he's wrong about that and you wonder about someone like that: he has spent decades preparing for what we are now facing, has a whole, now let's say, system of ideals in his mind that he would like to see realised and thinks: if that could happen in the world, then the world would take on a different appearance and have a different effect. With someone like that, you really wonder: is he serious about this? Or ... Is this someone who is convinced to his very core that his system, shall we say, can solve the problems in the world, or is it another process that is going on there, and is it then the case that such a person, if it is another process, does not ask himself now and then, as he grows older, as he approaches death: Have I got it right, am I doing it right? There will be a lot of criticism; can you then stand in your moral certainty or in your tendency towards evil? There are two possibilities, against all odds. These are questions that I ask myself in any case, and I am puzzled as to how I should interpret them. I cannot, when I see someone like that, immediately condemn him as a great criminal. But when you see what is on the programme, then there are again a number of points that you can't reject, of course, but when you look, for example, at the concept of the fourth industrial revolution - yes, for me that is an action of pure evil through a human being - and he also has a number of people in his company, of whom you think, yes, how can it be that someone has such ideas. Well, these are riddles that you have to face.
We, when we were young, a film was released that you can still see on Youtube, all the way through, and that was a film by Bert Haanstra. He made that film and gave it the title "Bij de beesten af" (Ape and Super-Ape) and you see how in the animal kingdom there is of course beastly behaviour, but also very ingenious. The instincts of the animals are such that things are achieved there that we, as human beings, are nowhere near able to imitate. But there is no question of morality, it is a species event and an instinct event, and the animal actually lives it out more or less innocently. And in contrast to this Bert Haanstra presents the human being who is gifted with intelligence and he shows how man's ingenuity can make the animal in man incredibly evil. So what is not possible with an animal, because he only lives out his instinct, is possible with a human when that instinct is combined with brains, with cleverness. And with this cleverness, it then becomes possible to achieve things that are unimaginable. You see a number of examples of this, each time alternating with images from the animal kingdom. Very revealing and also true. You can only think: man is more than just an ingenious animal, he has the possibility to look at his conscience, we talked about that last time and that makes that man really rises above the clever evil. You only see that as a human being you have a dual nature and that you are a problematic creature and that it should be so that with your cleverness, with your intellect, you should enter into an alliance with your conscience, with your morality. I think that only then would you really be able to move towards humanity. Another thing, which I experienced as a high school student, was that we had to study one Roman emperor par excellence and that was Emperor Augustus. Now, Emperor Augustus was not the worst of emperors, he was quite an acceptable ruler, although, of course, all sorts of things happened that were evil. But if you were to read how this Emperor Augustus eventually came to be on the throne, that is truly unimaginable, what intrigues and poisonings and truly unimaginable meanness preceded it, which was not even the Emperor himself who did that but for example his mother, who wanted him to come to the throne. These are examples in which you can experience what lies within mankind and I think there is only one possibility and that is expressed in a truism and that is "improve the world, start with yourself". That is really true, because we cannot improve the world. When you see that, that is just ridiculous. The criticism that people everywhere make of warring powers and defending powers, of processes that happen there while you are sitting comfortably in your armchair, how can you pass judgment on that, you don't even know if it's true what you're being presented with. You can say that this is not allowed and that it has to be done differently and we will sort it out, but you can't do anything. But what you can do is to examine yourself and take a look at what I am really like. Of course when you are young you hope to God that you will never be in one of those war situations and that you will never have to be in the position where you really have to choose between certain things, certain points of view that you might have to take openly and behaviour that you might have to reject while you have to and so on. But we here in Europe still have the comfortable position that we can sit in our armchairs and think about this, and I do believe that this is necessary, that we should, on the one hand, immerse ourselves in the morality of our fellow human beings and, on the other hand, in the badness of our own being. Really your own. And then you might say, well, that's an exaggeration. No, if you were really to pay attention to yourself, then you would discover in very small thoughts, in minuscule feelings, in little impulses of will, all kinds of things of which you would say, well, if that develops, then I too am someone who indulges in unimaginable wickedness. That is what I today wanted to contrast with the call to immerse oneself in the moral human being. And I would like to close with a sentence from the Gospel of Luke, in which a superior comes to Christ and says: Good Master - and then he asks his question. And before Christ answers that question, he says: What do you call me good? Only God is good.
If you think about it, you have to say: if even Christ who is on earth in a human body resists the predicate good, how can we ever think of ourselves as being good?Criticism and the tendency towards evil by Mieke Mosmuller