Wickedness

[The Bible] is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel.

It is deliberate purpose that constitutes wickedness and criminal guilt.

To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.

Lend your light to the blind. Why should the wickedness of men irritate you, when it is only blindness?

What is the true content of art, and with what aim is this content to be presented? On this subject our consciousness supplies us with the common opinion that it is the task and ima of art to bring in contact with our sense, our feeling, our inspiration, all that finds a place in the mind of man... Its aim is therefore placed in arousing and animating the slumbering emotions, inclinations, and passions; in filling the heart, in forcing the human being, whether cultured or uncultured, to feel the whole range of what man’s soul in its inmost and secret corners has power to experience and to create, and all that is able to move and to stir the human breast in its depths and in its manifold aspects and possibilities; to present as a delight to emotion and to perception all that the mind possesses of real and lofty in its thought and in the Idea - all the splendor of the noble, the eternal, and the true; and no less to make intelligible misfortune and misery, wickedness and crime; to make men realize the inmost nature of all that is shocking and horrible, as also of all pleasure and delight; and, finally, to set imagination roving in idle toyings of fancy, and luxuriating in the seductive spells of sense-stimulating visions.

There is no wickedness so desperate or deceptive - we can never foresee its consequences. Of all the evil spirits abroad in the world, insincerity is the most dangerous.

It is a man’s own dishonesty, his crimes, his wickedness, and boldness, that takes away from him soundness of mind; these are the furies, these the flames and firebrands, of the wicked.

Wickedness resides in the very hesitation about an act, even though it be not perpetrated.

Wickedness is a wonderfully diligent architect of misery, of shame, accompanied with terror, and commotion, and remorse, and endless perturbation.

Expel avarice, the mother of all wickedness, who, always thirst for more, opens wide her jaws for gold.

Every successful wickedness is, to say the least, a scandal... The only lesson to be derived from the successful misdeeds of the strong is to hold life here and now in no higher esteem than it deserves.

The whole effort for the past one hundred years has been to remove the moral responsibility from the individual and make him blame his own human wickedness on his society, but he helps to make his society, you see, and he will not take his responsibility for his part in it.

It is right noble to fight with wickedness and wrong; the mistake is in supposing that spiritual evil can be overcome by physical means.

Mysticism intends a state of "possession," not action, and the individual is not a tool but a "vessel" of the divine. Action in the world must thus appear as endangering the absolutely irrational and other-worldly religious state. Active asceticism operates within the world; rationally active asceticism, in mastering the world, seeks to tame what is creatural and wicked through work in a worldly "vocation" (inner-worldly asceticism). Such asceticism contrasts radically with mysticism, if the latter draws the full conclusion of fleeing from the world (contemplative flight from the world). The contrast is tempered, however, if active asceticism confines itself to keeping down and to overcoming creatural wickedness in the actor's own nature. For then it enhances the concentration on the firmly established God-willed and active redemptory accomplishments to the point of avoiding any action in the orders of the world (asceticist flight from the world). Thereby active asceticism in external bearing comes close to contemplative flight from the world. The contrast between asceticism and mysticism is also tempered if the contemplative mystic does not draw the conclusion that he should flee from the world, but, like the inner-worldly asceticist, remain in the orders of the world (inner-worldly mysticism).
In both cases the contrast can actually disappear in practice and some combination of both forms of the quest for salvation may occur. But the contrast may continue to exist even under the veil of external similarity. For the true mystic the principle continues to hold: the creature must be silent so that God may speak.

To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten
men is to increase the guilt ten-fold, to kill a hundred men is
to increase it a hundred-fold. This the rulers of the earth all
recognize and yet when it comes to the greatest crime—waging
war on another state—they praise it!
It is clear they do not know it is wrong, for they record
such deeds to be handed down to posterity; if they knew they
were wrong, why should they wish to record them and have
them handed down to posterity?
If a man on seeing a little black were to say it is black, but
on seeing a lot of black were to say it were white, it would be
clear that such a man could not distinguish between black and white.
Or if he were to taste a few bitter things were to pronounce
them sweet, clearly he would be incapable of distinguishing
between sweetness and bitterness. So those who recognize a
small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the
greatest crime of all—the waging of war on another state–but
actually praise it—cannot distinguish between right and wrong.
So as to right or wrong, the rulers of the world are in confusion.

Every human soul has the germ of some flowers within; and they would open, if they could only find sunshine and free air to expand in. I always told you that not having enough of sunshine was what ailed the world. Make people happy, and there will not be half the quarreling or a tenth part of the wickedness there is.

He that first started that doctrine, that knavery is the best defense against a knave, was but an ill teacher, advising us to commit wickedness to secure ourselves.

A system of ethics may be based either on fear or on love, but not on both. When based on fear, the letter of the law, as a rule, will be executed, but not its spirit. Because of fear, men may deal honestly with one another, but they will not necessarily be honest men, they may speak truthfully even and not be truthful. Fear develops a dual personality, one manifested in the presence of the object feared, the other, perhaps of extremely opposite tendencies, unfolded in the secret chamber of the heart. In a system of ethics based on fear, man is persuaded that he is weak and untrustworthy, that his nature is hopelessly corrupt, unable to master itself except at the lash of a Force lying outside himself. Man, it then would seem, is innately wicked ; his wickedness must be chained by threats of divine wrath and punishment ; he, of his own accord, would not walk in the path that is straight ; he must be forced into it by the gaps and ditches that are lurking dangerously outside this path. Such a system, in which man is convinced that he is unable to take care of himself, build his own character, merely tends to generate moral weakness and cowardice. A system of ethics based on love develops a unified personality, a oneness between thought and action. It enhances, more and more, the moral courage which is basic to man. Through love, man becomes conscious of the great force of goodness and virtue that lie within him. He knows that he is possessed of inherent goodness and godliness, if he knows that in himself is a spark of the divine, a force that makes for perfection. All he needs to do is to allow this divine spark to illuminate and permeate his whole being, and darkness and evil will disappear from his heart.

I don't withdraw a word of my initial statement. But I do now think it may have been incomplete. There is perhaps a fifth category, which may belong under insane but which can be more sympathetically characterized by a word like tormented, bullied, or brainwashed. Sincere people who are not ignorant, not stupid, and not wicked can be cruelly torn, almost in two, between the massive evidence of science on the one hand, and their understanding of what their holy book tells them on the other. I think this is one of the truly bad things religion can do to a human mind. There is wickedness here, but it is the wickedness of the institution and what it does to a believing victim, not wickedness on the part of the victim himself.

May it please Thee, O Lord my God,
To return to me in mercy,
And to bring me back to Thee in perfect repentance.
O dispose my heart and turn Thine ear to supplication,
And open my heart to Thy law,
And plant in my thoughts the fear of Thee,
And decree for me good decrees,
And annul the evil decrees against me,
And lead me not into the power of temptation,
Nor into the power of contempt,
And from all evil chances deliver me,
And hide me in Thy shadow until the havoc pass by,
And be with my mouth in my meditation,
And keep my ways from sin through my tongue,
And remember me when Thou rememberest and favourest Thy people,
And when Thou rebuildest Thy Temple,
That I may behold the bliss of Thy chosen ones,
And purify me to seek diligently Thy Sanctuary devastated and ruined,
And to cherish its stones and its dust,
And the clods of its desolation,
And rebuild Thou its wastes!