I mention in my book, To Find the Way of Love, that although the concepts of inequality and evil are absent from each of the dual theories of the Universe’s creation—the physical and the spiritual—the concepts of freedom and equality do appear in both. Freedom and equality are conceived in these theories as characteristics possessed by all of the fundamental particles that comprise all matter. The particles are equal in that no particle is better than any other or controls any other; and yet, particles can be different from one another, as iron differs from oxygen and protons differ from electrons. They are different but equal.
Only in recent millennia did this natural paradox become important, and problematic, as humans began to attach value judgments to differences. The reasoning arose that if two things were different, one had to be better than the other. This reasoning was extended, incorrectly, to people; if two people were different, one was superior to the other. Thus, inequality and evil appeared together—long after the Universe came to be.
Evil is not some mysterious thing: it is any act or belief that interferes with freedom and equality, or with the formation of free and equal relationships. It’s only a matter of belief, for example, that because men and women are different, one must therefore be better than the other. Such assumptions of inequality are the root of evil.
Perhaps ironically, this human propensity to make comparisons and turn them into negative judgments evolved from a crucial survival mechanism that first appeared eons ago in the mammalian brain. With a new brain structure, the limbic system, came mammals’ drive and ability to nurture and protect their offspring; and unlike their reptilian forebears, mammalian brains carried an innate prohibition against eating their brethren. This meant they also had to evolve a capability to rapidly identify others of their own kind, thereby solving the “eat or greet” dilemma posed when meeting a stranger.
Unfortunately, what was once a positive survival mechanism has since become a destructive, self-limiting means for discriminating against anyone or anything that’s different from the self or what the self is accustomed to. It would be a better world if each of us took responsibility for our biases and their consequences. It would be a safer world for all of us if differences were not so often, automatically, imbued with value judgments. It would be an impressive step forward for humanity and its future if we could move beyond those ancient, instinctive discriminatory impulses to a more conscious recognition of the potential value in our differences, and to an awareness of the necessity for treating all humans, despite differences, with respect as equals. Perhaps becoming mindful of the way of love can be a key to making that transition.
Oliver & Barbara