Those to Whom Evil is Done Do Evil In Return

I was watching TV, the show Criminal Minds to be exact, and as they do each episode they quoted a famous, or maybe not so famous, quote relevant to the story. In this particular episode a serial killer was acting out what he believed to be normal because he had been abused as a child. And then the quote:

Those to whom evil is done do evil in return. – W. H. Auden – American Poet

This tends to be human nature. Have you ever been hurt or betrayed by someone? If someone pushes you, isn’t your knee jerk response to push back? And if we look at the full quote by Auden, we can see why: “What all schoolchildren learn, those to whom evil is done, do evil in return”. Yes, this tendency is bred into us from childhood.

But is this the Christian way? Or in other words, is this the way of the cross? Here is what Jesus did:

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”. – Isaiah 53:7 (King James Version)

And on the cross, after He had been falsely accused, beaten, and nailed to a cross, here is what Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. – Luke 23:34 (King James Version)

So once again we see that the ways of the world are not the ways of God. And if you have been the victim of evil, there is no need to return evil for evil, hurt for hurt. Yes, protect yourself and take yourself out of harm’s way. Then give it to God, like Jesus did.

What do you think? How should we respond to evil in our lives today? Leave a comment to let our readers know what you think.

Here is where you can find more quotes from Criminal Minds.


Those to Whom Evil is Done Do Evil In Return — 3 Comments

  1. There are varying degrees of evil/wrong-doings. An eye for an eye is the OT low-base consciousness, the NT is more loving and more evolve consciousness as I see it. We should ask ourselves, what is the most effective way to end evil? I conclude it is to remove it from our lives. We can each choose how to do so. We must also ask ourselves, if we all turn the other cheek, evil will continue unabated and will never stop, it will never be removed. Ignorance does not beget truth, love, freedom or peace. The evil must be faced. If no one faces it, it will continue. At some point, you need to take a stand and act. When someone violates universal cosmic laws and is embodying evil, such as an evil consciousness that enjoys raping children and chopping them up into pieces, we must decide what to do. I, for one, know where I stand on this, and that is to remove the evil from the path of those who do no evil. It is not an eye for an eye, it is the removal of that which will continue to do evil until it is removed. Our failure to act will be our own doing, until such a time as someone has the courage and strength to do what is needed: remove the evil from our lives. This is specifically for the example I provided and not a blanket approach, and the lesser wrong-doings can be handled differently.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Locking a body that hosts evil consciousness away in a cell somewhere is a waste of resources and time. What is the purpose, to slowly let the body degrade until it’s “natural” end comes? What of the natural lives that were ended by this evil? What of the continued lives that are drained of time and energy in a delusional system to maintain the life of this evil consciousness?

    The Non-Aggression Principle offers a way to understand when force is necessary to stop violence and harm against innocents lives. Theft through taxes to support a flawed human-devised system is coercion and harmful, and no one should be expected to have their time and energy sapped into something they do not support, yet we are all forced into this madness to keep evil consciousnesses in cages because that is “better” than recognizing the collective failure of our society and the suffering we all create. Our society has created the evil consciousness. If we cannot help the consciousness to become more good, then only more resources, time and energy will be wasted. There are times to turn the cheek, and there are times to act. We need to develop an understanding of proper judgment.

    That’s my take. Peace.

  2. Auden was a Christian, and his words in the poem ‘1939’ do bot endorse the position, as seems to be implied; he is actually criticising it. It is often dangerous to quote lines of poetry out of context. And by the way Auden was English, not American.

  3. Re Peter Gilbert’s comment
    Agree you have to read the whole poem.
    A few bits — . . . the error bred in the bone
    Of each woman and each man
    Craves what it cannot have,
    Not universal love
    But to be loved alone

    One key line reads “We must love one another or die.”

    The closing stanza:
    Defenceless under the night
    Our world in stupor lies;
    Yet, dotted everywhere,
    Ironic points of light
    Flash out wherever the Just
    Exchange their messages:
    May I, composed like them
    Of Eros and of dust,
    Beleaguered by the same
    Negation and despair,
    Show an affirming flame.

    That is what we at Ecumenical Peace Institute hope to do on an ongoing basis.

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