A Life Plan for Dealing with Evil: The Night by Wiesel
Evil has existed since the beginning of the existence of the world and is constantly a part of people’s lives. There are many examples of evil events in history and in the modern world. Their main characteristic is bringing misfortune to large groups of people, as well as their death and the loss of loved ones. The struggle of the Nazis against the Jews can be considered as an absolute evil, just like modern manifestations of racism. To combat this phenomenon, people must first realize the existence of evil and unite to respond to it.
The night by Elie Wiesel is a memoir describing the main character’s encounters with absolute evil. In this case, Nazism during the Second World War and discrimination against Jews are the main components of this concept. Absolute evil can be referred to as bringing misfortune to hundreds of thousands of people, depriving them of the possibility of life, as well as loved ones. The character of the book is kept in a concentration camp, where he is subjected to slave labor conditions in a factory, as well as difficult living conditions. Additionally, he will lose his father, as well as other people close to him who were also Jews.
The most important aspects of evil that can be described based on the book are bringing misfortune to a large number of people, injustice, as well as frequent disbelief in its existence. In particular, when the main character’s mentor was taken away by the Nazis and he returned telling stories of the horror he had to endure, other Jews did not believe him. This aspect becomes the main one, as it does not allow them to prepare for the invasion of evil and prevent its influence. Elie himself later notes, “I could not believe that human beings were being burned in our times; the world would never tolerate such crimes” (Weisel, 2006, p. 33). Evil is characterized by being so outrageous and terrifying that it would never occur to ordinary people to exist.
Additionally, evil deprives people of faith in themselves and connections with other people. The main character of the book relied on God as the main source of his faith and knowledge of the world. He asked him all the most important questions in the hope of getting answers to them. However, having met with evil, he left God and even turned against him, blaming him for misfortunes. Over time, the character also became embittered at his fellows, who were in the same position as himself. People began to appear, such as foreman, who, instead of helping others, chose personal gain. In this case, evil divides people united by a common misfortune, instilling fear in them. However, in order to gain strength and struggle, people need to stick together and have hope for a change in the situation.
Within the framework of criminal justice, the events associated with George Floyd are, although ambiguous, an example of evil. In particular, the movement to eliminate racial discrimination in society has existed for a long time. Many people believed and found evidence of structural racism, especially in the police, which creates disparities and leads to fatal outcomes (Mesic et al., 2018). In this situation, the evil of the situation is when people are forced to die because of the presence of ideas about their difference.
George Floyd, although he was a delinquent, was subjected to excessive force, which resulted in his death. Society could not believe or assume that such a thing was possible in the modern world. The killing of a detainee by a police officer is now the exception rather than the norm but is more common in relation to Blacks (Mesic et al., 2018). An increased risk of human death due to a certain symptom, as well as manifestations of racism as a factor in depriving many of a happy life, are aspects of evil. Moreover, the death of George Floyd brought people together, gave them faith and strength, and also drew attention to the issue of discrimination. In the preface to the book, Wiesel (2006) notes that “When we speak of this era of evil and darkness… “responsibility” is the key word” (p. 18). The participants in the events were held accountable for their actions under the pressure of society, which also characterizes the events as evil. Evil is not the normal state of society and always finds a reaction.
As regards the ethics of dealing with this situation, it is necessary to eliminate the root cause of the events, which is the presence of racism. This phenomenon is widespread and extremely common even at the present time, and it is a real evil for many people. In particular, it can be considered as an absolute evil, as it affects huge populations, and also leads to the death of people and the loss of loved ones. Racism in its modern form brings people many misfortunes, deprives them of a normal life.
To combat this situation and its aftermath, it is necessary first of all that all members of society believe in the existence of such a problem. At present, unfortunately, many who are not concerned with racism deny its existence and negative impact. As the example of the response to the death of George Floyd showed, solidarity and mass speech are effective methods of combating the existing evil. It is important for people to unite and not to be divided under the pressure of fear and despair. This is especially difficult in modern conditions when many state structures also have racist features.
Mesic, A., Franklin, L., Cansever, A., Potter, F., Sharma, A., Knopov, A., & Siegel, M. (2018). The relationship between structural racism and Black-White disparities in fatal police shootings at the state level. Journal of the National Medical Association, 110(2), 106-116.
Weisel, E. (2006). The night. Hill and Wang.