Lesser Evils

As Wendell Berry asks in his wonderful poem Questionnaire:

For the sake of goodness, how much evil are you willing to do?  Fill in the following blanks with the names of your favorite evils and acts of hatred.

It seems to me that there are way too many people doing evil “for the sake of goodness.”

As I see it, a person who deliberately chooses the lesser of two evils deliberately chooses evil.

And deliberately choosing evil is something we ought not do.

Just saying.

Love Wins

5 comments on “Lesser Evils

  1. shoreacres says:

    When it comes to true evil, I’m in agreement. When both choices come with good and evil mixed, it becomes more complicated.

    One of our problems may be that we sometimes have trouble recognizing evil or giving it proper due. And the very concept of evil has been diluted over the years, thanks to people like my mother. She used that expression more than anyone I know, usually when pondering a choice like that between a coconut macaroon and triple chocolate cake. “Let’s see,” she’d say. “I think this cookie would be the lesser of two evils”.

    Funny that you should post this on the day when more Americans than usual are making off-handed remarks about having to make a choice between “the lesser of two evils”. 😉


    • Bill says:

      True. Sometimes it seems we trivialize evil, by using the word to describe things that aren’t themselves evil. Other times we chose and embrace evil, telling ourselves that our choice of evil is somehow not itself an evil act. It seems to me that when we think we have to choose between two evils, we almost always have overlooked other options.


  2. FYI: I and another person left comments earlier that have disappeared…

    I wanted to say, that anyone going to the polls today and deciding on either of the two top choices is still choosing evil. Period. I have never seen this poem before. It’s astonishing in its directness and in the truth it conveys.


    • Bill says:

      Thanks Teresa. Your earlier comment was over at the original post with the complete poem, linked in this one. Hopefully no comments have disappeared from here. If so, I certainly didn’t delete them. 🙂

      It is a poem that is brutally direct, on matters that deserve to be dealt with directly, it seems to me.

      I’ve been disappointed to see so many people compromising their values because they’ve accepted the notion that they must accept evil to prevent what they perceive to be a greater evil. They are, in Mr. Berry’s words, willing to do evil for the sake of goodness.


      • Exactly so. I’ve chosen to stay home today. I simply don’t wish to participate at any level. I’m afraid I’ve come to see the process of “elections” as a sham, if not a scam.

        And I see that the comments are intact over there. I was confused…. 🙂


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