dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

Greta Refuses to Believe in Evil. She Should.

September 27th, 2019 by dk

Greta Thunberg dispensed with ceremonial niceties when she addressed this week’s United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. Her message started with thunder. She came to rain on her elders’ parade. Here’s how she began:

“My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”

She upbraided world leaders for their tepid remedies to collapsing ecosystems and the beginning of a mass extinction, preferring fairy tales of unending economic prosperity and “Deus ex machina” tech solutions that will save the day. (I’ll have more to say about the Deus part in a moment.)

She recounted the scientific numbers that could spell our extinction. “There will not be any solutions or plans presented … here today, because… you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us. … The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this.”

Speaking to hundreds of professional diplomats, Greta was purposefully undiplomatic. But there was a Rubicon she would not cross:

“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But … I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”

Believe it, Greta. Our modern world order has developed a giant blind spot, because we cannot accept evil in our world and in our adversaries. Some of our most vexing problems defy solutions because we cannot acknowledge those who feel no shame and who delight in the suffering of others.

Every human can be redeemed, but we cannot redeem them. That has always required a deity or an afterlife or some cosmic source outside ourselves. Modern societies organize themselves with deity as an option, but not a requirement. We’ve over-learned the lessons from our past.

Magical thinking inhibits our problem-solving. Religions divide people. Our bloodiest crusades have been carried out in God’s name. We’ve used an afterlife to justify brutality in this one. Visualizing a God who loves us has excused us from loving one another and ourselves.

Our progress has hit a limit. God needn’t comfort the afflicted. Prosperity can handle that now. But our need for a cosmic force to respond to evil has not diminished. We can’t create heaven on earth without there being also a hell.

We haven’t built an effective societal response to evildoers, to bullies, to nihilistic narcissists. From schoolyard name-calling to world wars, we’ve made ourselves blind to people who enjoy hurting other people. Hoarding resources that others need is hateful and evil. Greta was right to say we may not be forgiven for our selfishness, because we’ve banished from our garden the only force that can.

It is not for us to forgive evil. Our job must be to fight it.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.