On Evil

While walking into Andrew Feldmar’s living room to prepare for the interview, he casually asks, “so why evil?  What made you want to talk about that?”  I simply say, “Oh, it just came to mind.” I notice how innocent I sound given the gravity of our subject. I then say something about how it’s also because I think he’s writing a book about it.  He’s quick to correct me that he’s not.

Clearly, there are few plans for the interview.  I trust, like I have in all my experiences with Andrew over the past ten years, be them in therapy, mentorship, or co-collaboration on a couple projects, that the right thing, words, and qualities will emerge.  What I can never prepare for are the consequences. You see, I thought I set this up for you, my listeners.


If you listen above, you’ll hear Andrew speak on evil in human ethics, how a so-called bystander has a responsibility when confronted with evil, how a courageous woman saved his life when he was a childand the evils of labelling in the penal and so-called mental health systemsAfterwards, you may or may not be grateful for all you’ve heard.  Andrew says in the interview that he’s “not squeamish”,  when referring to what we must all do in the face of evil.  His call to us honours our capacities to take a stand against evil acts, to “not let evil come through us”, and to measure whether our actions are “right” by whether we can live with them today and into the future.

The conversation continues after the recorder’s turned off. While wrapping up the cords to my equipment, I’m somehow sheepish—stunned.  I slump in my seat sighing, “It’s humbling that even after all my years of working on seeing clearly, that I’m still compartmentalizing people from their actions—still preserving their dignity.  That I can say, “well even if he acts like an ass, deep down I know he’s a good person.”  Or, “she’s a genius teacher, and I can show up and learn with her even though I don’t like that she’s disrespectful to everyone once she’s done.”  Or “he raped, and even though that’s wrong, maybe in some weird way he’s attempting to heal his childhood.””

If you’ve listened, you’ll hear Andrew rightfully accuse me of, “idiot’s compassion”.

Looking back now, Andrew, I understand that’s “why evil?”. I needed to hear you say everything you said.  So I might enjoy the privilege of being shook more thoroughly alive by you and your courageous answers.  So that led by your example, I might, if lucky in this lifetime, make some dent in the approach to my version of your elegant truth-telling. For all these reasons, I amend my answer. 

More on Andrew