In his article, “The Frivolity of Evil,” Theodore Dalrymple discusses such issues as the underlying causes of evil deeds. For this, he considers the attitude of people towards evil and the role of government in its emergence. Numerous questions come to one’s mind while thinking about the origin of this problem and the ways to change the situation. However, different types of evil, depending on whether it is created on a governmental or individual level, have a varying impact on overall happiness.
To understand the origin of evil, it is essential to define its source, in other words, specify if it comes from the government or people. The main argument of the author is that both types of evil have some influence on the emotional state of people and are interrelated. From his experience as a doctor and prison worker, Dalrymple made several significant conclusions on the nature of evil, which is connected to human nature. He states that the irresponsibility of people is the primary reason for its spread (Dalrymple). Small evil deeds tend to result in more significant problems, and a focus on short-term pleasures leads to general unhappiness.
According to Dalrymple, essential evil pertains to the political actions of the government, specifically if it follows the totalitarian directives of leaders, as it happened in North Korea and the Soviet Union. On an individual level, evil is reflected by the wrong choices people make. The choice of an unsuitable partner would become a reason to be unhappy and harm children, but people consider such outcomes as mere coincidence. Being depressed, they are unable to acknowledge the real causes, which are contained in their improper actions (Dalrymple). Hence, a person does not feel he or she is responsible for what is happening in life and promotes the spread of evil.
My personal opinion is similar to the one of Dalrymple. Indeed, an abdication of responsibility is the primary cause of the emergence of evil. Whereas it is hard to assess the actions of the government and its political leaders in terms of creating evil, it is quite simple for individuals. The article proves that the harm people do is based solely on their actions and, therefore, is their responsibility. Hence, any help from the government would only worsen the situation as it will not lead to the understanding of personal motives and their consequences.
In contrast to the ideas of Dalrymple, various concepts are promoting the soundness of any actions intended to make people happier. One of such concepts belongs to John Stuart Mill, who presented these ideas in his text Utilitarianism (10). Taking into account human nature and its connection to evil, it seems to be hardly possible to make everyone happy by promoting freedom of action. Therefore, the implementation of Mill’s ideas would result in an overall lack of responsibility of people for their lives.
The rich experience of Theodore Dalrymple allowed him to make a judgment based on his observations of patients and compare small evil deeds to the ones on the governmental level. Both political and individual evil derives from the wrong choices people make. Thus, I am convinced that the elimination of evil is possible only in the case of restraining people’s activities and renunciation of the policy of assistance.
Dalrymple, Theodore. “The Frivolity of Evil.” City Journal, 2004. Web.
Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. Fb&c Limited, 2017.