All evils consist in an imperfect apprehension of the facts of life, a mistaken attitude of mind towards human experience, and a consequent unsatisfactory conduct. Anyone who understands and practices the principle that makes this statement of Jesus reasonable, will not only have learned his personal secret, but will be free of sorrow.
Apparent evil is not evil in its essence. It must be that beneath the surface all that can exist is good, and needs no resistance. Beneath what seems repulsive to us, there must be a deeper depth where reason reigns. We may profess to believe in the spiritual constitution of the universe, but most of us do not speak to the spirit in men and in things, but rather to that which is illusory and deceptive. The force of the injunction, "Resist not evil," will be apprehended only through the perception of unity everywhere, the absolutely trustful attitude of mind that does not shrink from, but welcomes, all the hard experiences of life, and the resolute conduct that leads a man to agree with his adversary quickly, while he is in the way with him.
The universe is the unfolding of a drama, the purport of which can be seen clearly in the development of the greatest human souls. The reward for acting one’s part well even though it be a minor part, is promotion to a higher position.
Evil is not in things, conditions, events or men.
It is not in things.
"In the mud and scum of things
There alway, alway, something sings."
Through all the hardest experiences of life, the non-resistant man may truly say, In all these things I am more than a conqueror. They are meant only to serve as gymnastic apparatus for our mental and moral development. Evil is not in actions in themselves. A man may write his name with the same pen, on the same paper, and aided by the same sort of light, in one case for the most benevolent purpose, and in the other, with the utmost malevolent intent. The difference between work and play is not in what men do, but the spirit in which they do it. Whitman is right when he says, "l say in fact that there is no evil, or if there is, it is just as important to you and me as anything else.”
Evil is not in men. What seems evil to the sufferer seems good to the aggressor. The thief does not steal because he wishes to do wrong, and the murderer does not kill because the murder seems an evil thing to him. The thief believes that his wants should be supplied. He may not know what his true wants are, and he certainly takes a wrong method to supply them, but the immediate purpose of the thief is not wrong, but right, from his viewpoint. The murderer sees in his way an obstacle that he believes ought to be removed. He is right in thinking that every obstacle in his path either should be removed or overcome. It may be that this man who offends him is not a real obstacle, but he does not know that. It is certainly true that he cannot remove the obstacle by violence, but he cannot perceive this; and when he kills the one who offends him he does it, not because he wants to do wrong, but because, however mistaken he may be in his judgment, he wants to do right. These considerations do not at all lessen moral responsibility; if anything, they increase it. They simply point out the seat of moral accountability as resting in the understanding and the conscience, and depending upon the measure of a man’s enlightenment. This is one reason why no man is fitted to judge another, because he cannot estimate what really moves the other, unless he can look with the other’s eyes and see what appears to him to be good.
We cannot overcome evil with evil, but we can overcome evil only with good.
This means, by non-resistance and love. It is by the practice of this principle also that we can alone overcome resentment and malice in others. If a man strikes you and you return the blow, what have you done? In each one of us there seems to reside a sac of poison; and if you strike a man who has struck you, you add to his anger, and cause this sac to be broken, and the poison thoroughly spattered throughout his whole nature; while it is also a fact that the very act on your part, by which you resent and resist the injury, causes your poison sac to be broken, and you also to suffer, even as the man whom you are trying to injure.—Benjamin Fay Mills, in Unity