Recently, I came face to face with what I considered a cruel, heartless action on the part of someone. Am I correct in equating cruelty with evil? Could evil just be a higher degree of cruelty?

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I see your point and thank you for that. But that I feel goes into the realm of a misunderstanding which has been interpreted by the party (the student) as having been cruel. that's very valid for this discussion. But there are people who are fully aware that their actions are cruel and malicious and couldn't begin to care. I have to say that very rarely have I run into this sort of thing. And that's good. however, when I find a person I think is hurtful for no reason, before I run the other way--I take a good, long, hard look at him/her and wonder why they are they way they are. Generally, I don't buy into reasons for people being cruel. that life affected them adversely. life affects a lot of people adversely--but they deal with it and not by hurting others. thanks again Grace. You make such stimulating points!
There are so many shades of evil: causing discomfort, causing harm, causing lasting pain, causing a large wave of horror. In 1973, I accompanied the Canadian delegation to the YMCA world conference in Uganda. We were hosted by Idi Amin, after he had repeatedly travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, to cajole the organization to go there. We knew if we didn't go, he most likely would have sought revenge on the YMCA people in his country, so against the advice of the Canadian government, we went. When I met him, I knew I was confronting evil as I understood it - and it was so mundane. He was more silly looking than impressive in a lion skin stretched across a prominent belly as he marched into the opening ceremony. But we knew he was capable of great harm. Did we enhance his power by attending and therefore sanctioning his government? I'm not sure. I know we were begged on a number of occasions to get people out of Uganda, and there was no way we could. My lasting impression of the man was of his need for ego reinforcement, and my sense that he was a small man, in spite of my fear.

I wonder how other people have reacted when confronted with moral choice and evil?

And I do think cruelty is one of the shades of evil.

Jane B in Toronto
Sitting here with my jaw open. Wow. Funny how you thought, and rightly so I'm sure, that he was silly looking really. His outer casing wasn't impressive, but the power he had was scary. excellent point. I think you acted extremely courageously. you and your organization did all that you could. and yes, i agree that cruelty is a shade of evil. There's the case of the moors murderers of the 1960's here in England, they murdered children, Myra HIndley and Ian Brady were evil The judge said to Myra something like this: YOU WERE A WOMAN, MADAM. THE VICTIM WAS A CHILD OF YOUR OWN SEX. YOU WERE HEARTLESS. She said I WAS CRUEL. I say, No you were evil. You were as evil as evil gets. She died in prison (it is said unremorseful, she only wanted to get out), Brady by the way is still in prison and has written a book: THE GATES OF JANUS. I read it out of curiousity. He isn't really remorseful , and it comes out in the book. Again, thanks so much for your reply. i will think about it for some more now.

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