The evil in my heart

When I was nine, my downstairs neighbours had a hamster. Whenever I held him, I would turn him onto his back, because he clearly hated it and he looked so adorable when he squirmed. I have always been very ashamed of this.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things to be ashamed of, it’s not really that bad. Some kids might have stuck needles in the hamster. Probably not kids who grew up to be people I know, but who knows, really? Most well-adjusted people don’t talk about the fact that there is evil in their hearts.

Well, let me tell it to you straight: there is a little bit of evil in my heart. A fair amount of good, I think, but definitely some evil. By “evil,” I don’t mean selfishness or hatred, both of which I have some of as well. I mean the capacity to enjoy other people’s suffering.

Because I grew up to not be a sociopath, most of my personal evil is visited upon people I know and care about.

If you are not a sociopath, evil can’t get too far on its own, so it works by sidling up to other intentions. In friendships, evil is fairly easy to manage, because your minds aren’t usually tangled up in a rat king of intentions. Usually you both intend simple things like having fun. Evil and fun are like peanut butter and chocolate, as long as evil doesn’t get out of hand.

In romantic or familial relationships, though, there are a million intentions for evil to sidle up to, including defence, offence, and the venting of anger or sadness. Oh, and sexual enjoyment. There are enough intentions that you don’t always notice when evil has sidled up to one of them. Relationships are like a game of murder handshake for evil.

I think the trick to evil is to acknowledge that it exists. That way you can recognize it and tell it to bug off when it starts harassing the other intentions. That’s easy enough to do for yourself, but harder to do in relationships. People find it freaky to look upon evil in the heart of someone they love.

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