When I read Water’s post on evil, all I can think about is the first time I saw a bug light up close. We had gone to see my grandparents. My grandfather always had the coolest tools and seemingly a new one at each visit. On this occasion, I saw a glow coming from above the garage door after dark. It was an ice blue hue that hummed as you got closer to it. Then suddenly there was a ZAP and then quickly another one. The electric boogaloo of certain death continued through the night for those foolish flies.

That Alluring Lizard

Having graduated from business school, there is something quite appealing about Gordon Gecko maybe even more so than for my two compatriots. I want to be able to outsmart my competition. They want to outsmart me. Many times they would do whatever it takes in order land a customer over me. Lying and cheating are part of the game. I even had one professor claim that he saw nothing wrong with insider trading because then the market would move faster on better knowledge. This professor was so outside of the circle of thinking of his fellow academics with this kind of outlandish claim that they made him dean.

If Wall Street was produced in order to champion high motives and actions rather than base ones, I feel like it fails. Now whether this makes Stone a horrible writer or a great one, I am not sure. Because the reason it fails is because Gecko is such an appealing figure and perhaps the most real one he has ever created. Isn’t that interesting? I am sure when Stone sat down to write Wall Street Gecko was set to be a caricature, a combination of all the horrifying excess that you read then later read about in books like Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker. However, in attempting this Gecko jumps off the screen as authentic while other characters look formulaic and secondary.

Gordon Gecko: Not Pictured Above

I know some people don’t believe in evil. I have had my problems with personifying it in a red-skinned, goateed, pitchfork maniac. But I have no doubt that it exists. I think instead that people do not recognize evil. And this is not an issue for evil-deniers solely, but for believers as well. Lines are so blurred by moral relativism/ambiguity/abhorrence that we see the entire world as shades. So what is bright, what is obvious convinces us of its rightness.

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A

I heard people argue recently that it was a bad thing that freedom is coming to the people of Egypt, Tunisia, et. al. (I for one hope the et.al. is a long one.) Cautioning that freedom for people who might not agree with us might be bad for us. These people ignore the core principles that a United States citizen is supposed to remember.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Jefferson is writing beyond his own ability to practice these beliefs, yet he still writes them. We teach, recite, uphold them as second only to and perhaps many times above the Word of God. And yet we put our own self-interest above those of oppressed people who these words defend?

Another inaccurate image
God Gives Strange Gifts, Too

The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans perhaps the most honest passage about a struggle with the black hole of evil. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) This statement rings true about evil because it makes it about my actions excluding any other’s responsibility. Within all of us is a desire for evil because evil is an elevation of self to the exclusion of all else.

I am sure people would use this argument to attempt to prove that there is no evil at all. I will not pick a fight with a straw man. Let me instead say that I think this desire for wrongness is a gift from God. Paul sums up his discussion in Romans 7 by saying, “Wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?” The next line always comes too quickly for me so I pause here and think about the conclusion that Paul has come to about his state. “But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Paul says in this moment of realization a thank you. He says this because he knows he cannot control his desire for evil completely, but he also knows that he does not have to. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This grace does not mean that he should not try, but it acknowledges his inability to do so every time.

How is this a gift? Because our inability to control the desire for self causes us to cast off dependence on ourselves. We must depend on God because he is the only hope for any salvation. He not only inspires us to attempt to be better people, but covers us when we are not.

So yeah, this is kind of a sermon. I tried for it not to be, but just when I thought I was out it pulled me back in. (Worse movie, better character and better first two movies)

I believe in evil, because I see it in myself often. But I hope that next time I see it, I will be able to look away. And I am eternally grateful because when I am not able to look away, I have a Savior who did.