Evil Must Be Fought – Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Response to the Terror Attacks in London

In our world, which is so full of information of every possible kind, it seems natural for people to be well aware of the existence of evil. Nevertheless, it appears that people still do not really know that evil actually exists as a force with an existence and a power of its own. Everyone surely knows that there are distorted and wicked human beings here and there, but they are seen as oddities and not as the norm of reality.

What happened recently in London should bring about a fundamental change in our way of seeing the world. There is most certainly evil in this world. It has its own ideology, its own organizations, and it exists not only somewhere far away, but here, so very close to our daily life. This ideology is not necessarily connected to people of a particular religion, color, race or creed: it belongs to those who allowed evil to control them to such an extent that human life has lost all value in their eyes. Their plan (or rather, that of their leaders) crushes and kills men and women, old people and young children, guilty and innocent alike.

Although people are hurt by the activities of this evil, there still exists a desire to find some justification for it. People try to explain evil away, especially when it relates to others. They speak about national uprising, about poverty and illiteracy, about unbridled incitement. No doubt, all these things do exist. But they do not, by any means, justify evil, or even furnish a valid explanation for it.

This sort of evil is not spontaneous. Rather, it is planned and controlled by cold-blooded people who have no compunctions about killing their victims, as well as their messengers. These leaders of evil do not operate alone. They are assisted by the innocent, the indifferent, and the foolish. The innocent are those who can find, or even invent, justifications and explanations for everything. The indifferent are those who are not moved by disasters that happen to other people in other lands. The foolish are those who think they have a safe way of escaping danger.

We must come to see our reality as it really is, including the existence of evil, wickedness and cruelty. We can and must persecute them down to their most primary sources. It is possible, through an extended and concentrated effort, to eradicate them. Surely, we must all know that in this world, there are some things that we, as decent human beings, must fight and annihilate.