Evil (quotes)


What is evil?


Evil is defined as what is profoundly immoral


Evil is harming life

  • Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life and that to destroy, harm, or to hinder life is evil. Affirmation of the world — that is affirmation of the will to live, which appears in phenomenal forms all around me — is only possible for me in that I give myself out for other life.   Albert Schweitzer
  • And what constitutes evil, real evil, is the taking of a single human life. Whether a man would die tomorrow or the day after or eventually… it doesn’t matter. Because if God does not exist, then life… every second of it… Is all we have. Anne Rice

Evil is bringing suffering to oneself and others

  • In Zen Buddhism an action is considered good when it brings happiness and well-being to oneself and others, evil when it brings suffering and harm to oneself and others. Thich Thien-An
  • Suffering

True evil is being willingly evil

  • No one who errs unwillingly is evil. Sophocles
  • There is nothing good or evil save in the will. Epictetus
  • Evil is knowing better, but willingly doing worse. Philip Zimbardo
  • No man is permanently and fixedly evil, until he is willingly evil. Reuen Thomas
  • No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from. George Eliot

The worst evil is bad that believes itself to be good – or pretends to be

  • Most people are good and occasionally do something they know is bad. Some people are bad and struggle every day to keep it under control. Others are corrupt to the core and don’t give a damn, as long as they don’t get caught. But evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it’s good. Karen Marie Moning
  • Is there worse evil than that which goes in the mask of good? Lloyd Alexander
  • Little evil would be done in the world if evil never could be done in the name of good. Marie von Ebner- Eschenbach

The worst evil is blind to itself

  • Truly it is an evil to be full of faults; but it is a still greater evil to be full of them and to be unwilling to recognize them, since that is to add the further fault of a voluntary illusion. Blaise Pascal
  • This is the very worst wickedness, that we refuse to acknowledge the passionate evil that is in us. This makes us secret and rotten. D. H. Lawrence

Our essential nature is some good and some evil


Man’s nature is not essentially evil …

  • Man’s nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been known to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature. Mahatma Gandhi
  • To prefer evil to good is not in human nature; and when a man is compelled to choose one of two evils, no one will choose the greater when he might have the less. Plato
  • No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks. Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Human nature is evil, and goodness is caused by intentional activity. Xun Zi

… for there is good and evil in all men …

  • Humanity is not perfect in any fashion; no more in the case of evil than in that of good. The criminal has his virtues, just as the honest man has his weaknesses. Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
  • We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. Martin Luther King
  • There are only two forces at work in this world-black and white. Only people are grey. Chris Heimerdinger
  • All human beings are commingled out of good and evil. Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The whole gamut of good and evil is in every human being. Fanny Kemble
  • Fairly examined, truly understood, no man is wholly bad, nor wholly good. Theognis of Megara
  • All human beings … are commingled out of good and evil. Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Do not be dismayed to learn there is a bit of the devil in you. There is a bit of the devil in us all. Arthur Byron Cover
  • People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict. Daniel Handler

… and the battleline between good and evil runs through every heart

  • The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil. Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The nature of evil


Evil seeds cannot bear good fruit

  • By the fruit the tree is to be known. An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Abraham Lincoln
  • Our minds work like a garden. It is fertile ground that accepts any and everything we plant. Good or evil, constructive or destructive, our lives will bear the fruit of the seeds we plant in our minds. Ivanla Vanzant
  • Of evil grain, no good seed can come. Proverb
  • Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin. Aesop

Evil is the plague of the soul

  • All spirits are enslaved which serve things evil. Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Evil is the plague of the soul. Edward Counsel
  • An evil thought in a soul is like a water-rat swimming in a pond at evening: the rat destroys the iridescent reflection of heaven in the water. Austin O’Malley
  • The soul

Evil is the absence of light, not something to battle or run from

  • Evil needs to be understood for what it is: the dynamic of the absence of Light. It is not something that one should prepare to battle, to run from, or to outlaw. Gary Zukav
  • God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God. Albert Einstein
  • LightDarkness

Evil doesn’t need to be explained by a belief in Satan

  • I know there’s evil in the world, and there always has been. But you don’t need to believe in Satan or demons to explain it. Human beings are perfectly capable of evil all by themselves. Tess Gerritsen
  • The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness. Joseph Conrad

Evil arises in the mind …

  • It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways. Buddha
  • All things may corrupt when minds are prone to evil. Ovid
  • Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either. Bodhidharma

… and thankfully tends to be in the thoughts more than the actions

  • We are all capable of evil thoughts, but only very rarely of evil deeds: we can all do good deeds, but very few of us can think good thoughts. Cesare Pavese
  • All men are more wicked in thought than action. Norman Macdonald
  • Action

Evil is usually dressed up to look pretty on the surface

  • The most hateful evil in the world is the evil that dresses itself in such a way that men cannot hate it. The men that make wickedness beautiful are the most utterly to be hated. Henry Ward Beecher
  • Why was so much evil pleasant, pretty on the outside, like poisoned candy? Laurell K. Hamilton

Evil is an act, not an appetite

  • Evil is an act, not an appetite. How many haven’t wanted to slash the throat of some boor across the dining room table? Present company excepted of course. Everyone has the appetite. If you give in to it, it, that act is evil. The appetite is normal. Gregory Maguire

Evil is a point of view

  • In some situations, there is no absolute good or evil, simply points of view. Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
  • The relish of good and evil depends in a great measure upon the opinion we have of them. Michel Eyquem de Michel de Montaigne
  • So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being. Paulo Coelho
  • Evil is a point of view. Anne Rice

Evil is usually obvious only in retrospect

  • Evil is obvious only in retrospect. Gloria Steinem
  • We believe no evil till the evil’s done. Jean de La Fontaine

Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy and monotonous

  • Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating. Simone Weil

The roots of evil


Money is the root of evil – or is it?

  • Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed. Gandhi
  • If you make money your god, it will plague you like the devil. Henry Fielding
  • Lack of money is the root of all evil. George Bernard Shaw
  • Listen – of course money changes everything, but so does sunlight, and so does food: These are powerful but neutral energy sources, neither inherently good nor evil but shaped only by the way we use them. Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Money doesn’t mind if we say it’s evil, it goes from strength to strength. It’s a fiction, an addiction, and a tacit conspiracy. Martin Amis
  • Money is neither my god nor my devil. It is a form of energy that tends to make us more of who we already are whether it’s greedy or loving. Dan Millman
  • So you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what is the root of all money? Ayn Rand
  • Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter. Ayn Rand
  • The want of money is the root of all evil. Samuel Butler
  • Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes. Louisa May Alcott
  • People who say that money is the root of all evil don’t have any.
  • Money is not the root of all evil…ignorance is the root of all evil. People do cruel and foolish things for money because they feel oppressed by a sense of lack. If people knew their power to generate wealth, they would never fight or hurt each other over money. Alan Cohen
  • Money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of blessings. Carl Sandburg
  • Money should never be separated from values. Detached from values it may indeed be the root of all evil. Linked effectively to social purpose it can be the root of opportunity. Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Desire and passion are the root of evil – or are they?

  • Desire is the root of evil. Buddha
  • The face of evil is always the face of total need. William S. Burroughs
  • The way to avoid evil is not by maiming our passions, but by compelling them to yield their vigor to our moral nature. They should be to spiritual sentiments what the hot-bed is to early flowers. Henry Ward Beecher
  • It is difficult to say which is the greatest evil–to have too violent passions, or to be wholly devoid of them. Controlled with firmness, guided by discretion, and hallowed by the imagination, the passions are the vivifiers and quickeners of our being. Without passion there can be no energy of character. Indeed, the passions are like fire, useful in a thousand ways, and dangerous only in one–through their excess. Christian Nestell Bovee
  • Desire is poverty. Desire is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire is the motive force for action. Desire in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire is a very great evil. Swami Sivananda
  • DesirePassion

Fear is the root of evil

  • Fear is a greater evil than evil itself. Francis de Sales
  • Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil. Aristotle
  • Fear is the original sin. Almost all of the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that someone is afraid of something. It is a cold slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading. L.M. Montgomery
  • There is no devil but fear. Elbert Hubbard
  • Fear

Ignorance is the root of evil

  • The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance. Socrates
  • The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding. Albert Camus
  • I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth. Molly Ivins
  • Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil. Plato
  • Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous. Plato
  • Entire ignorance is not so terrible or extreme an evil and is far from being the greatest of all; too much cleverness and too much learning, accompanied with ill bringing-up, are far more fatal. Plato
  • Evil being the root of mystery, pain is the root of knowledge. Simone Weil
  • Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their dupes, but which no democracy can afford among its citizens. William Beveridge
  • What we call evil, it seems to me, is simply ignorance bumping its head in the dark. Henry Ford
  • Ignorance

Believing there is only one truth is the root of evil

  • The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. Max Born
  • There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.  Alfred North Whitehead
  • Truth

Ambition can be a source of evil

  • The greatest evil that fortune can bring to men is to endow them with feeble resources and yet to make them ambitious. Luc De Clapiers, Marquis De Vauvenargues
  • It is the constant fault and inseparable evil quality of ambition, that it never looks behind it. Seneca
  • Ambition

Pleasure can be a source of evil

  • Pleasure is the greatest incentive to evil. Plato
  • In the realm of evil thoughts none induces to sin as much as do thoughts that concern the pleasure of the flesh. Thomas Aquinas
  • If you pursue good with labor, the labor passes away but the good remains; if you pursue evil with pleasure, the pleasure passes away and the evil remains. Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • Pleasure

Religion can be a source of evil

  • With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. Steven Weinberg
  • Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. Blaise Pascal
  • More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way. Glen Cook
  • Religion

Lies and dishonesty are a source of evil

  • He knew the lie of silence to be as evil as the lie of speech. Gilbert Parker
  • People like to say that the conflict is between good and evil. The real conflict is between truth and lies. Miguel Angel Ruiz
  • False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. Socrates
  • LyingDishonesty

Hypocrisy and prejudice are a source of evil

  • Hypocrisy is the mother of all evil and racial prejudice is still her favourite child. Don King
  • Bigotry or prejudice in any form is more than a problem; it is a deep-seated evil within our society. Judith Light
  • I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I’ve written there is a thread of this: a man’s seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself. Rod Serling
  • HypocrisyPrejudice

Gossip can be a source of evil

  • Have I inadvertently said some evil thing? Phocion
  • Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around. Frank A. Clark
  • No sword bites so fiercly as an evil tongue. Sir Philip Sidney
  • To harken to evil conversation is the road to wickedness.
  • Ill deeds are doubled with an evil word. William Shakespeare
  • We cannot control the evil tongues of others; but a good life enables us to disregard them. Cato the Elder
  • Never tell evil of a man, if you do not know it for certainty, and if you know it for a certainty, then ask yourself, ‘Why should I tell it?’ Johann K. Lavater
  • Gossip

Stupidity can be even more destructive than evil

  • Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference. Jim Butcher
  • Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results. Margaret Atwood
  • Stupidity

Poverty is an evil

  • As covetousness is the root of all evil, so poverty is the worst of all snares. Daniel Defoe
  • All the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil show it evidently to be a great evil. Samuel Johnson
  • I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. Robert Kennedy
  • Poverty

War is evil

  • War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil. George Orwell
  • War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children. Jimmy Carter
  • The chief evil of war is more evil. War is the concentration of all human crimes. Here is its distinguishing, accursed brand. Under its standard gather violence, malignity, rage, fraud, perfidy, rapacity, and lust. If it only slew man, it would do little. It turns man into a beast of prey. William Ellery Channing

Pain is evil – or is it?

  • The greatest evil is physical pain. Augustine
  • Pain is no evil, unless it conquers us. Charles Kingsley
  • Pain

The greatest evil in our lives tends to flow from ourselves

  • Our greatest evil flows from ourselves. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell. Oscar Wilde

Here are more sources of evil

  • Getting used to our blessings is one of the most important nonevil generators of human evil, tragedy and suffering. Abraham Maslow
  • In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments. Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Of all the things of a man’s soul which he has within him, justice is the greatest good and injustice the greatest evil. Plato
  • Our labour preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want. Voltaire
  • Shallow breathing is the root of all evil, but conscious deep breathing restores and secures our souls. Desmond Green
  • He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator. Francis Bacon
  • Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things. Terry Pratchett
  • How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly. Elizabeth Gaskell
  • There’s only one great evil in the world today. Despair. Evelyn Waugh
  • Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself. Soren Kierkegaard
  • All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room. Blaise Pascal
  • Evil is whatever distracts. Franz Kafka
  • Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete. Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Evil is always devising more corrosive misery through man’s restless need to exact revenge out of his hate. Ralph Steadman
  • There is no greater evil than anarchy. Sophocles
  • The root of the evil is not the construction of new, more dreadful weapons. It is the spirit of conquest. Ludwig von Mises
  • A great cause of evil in the world is that men seldom think themselves criminal if they offer the same injustice to others that has been successfully practiced on themselves. Norman Macdonald
  • Evil, what is evil? There is only one evil, to deny life. D. H. Lawrence
  • Violence isn’t always evil. What’s evil is the infatuation with violence. Jim Morrison
  • The greatest of all evils is a weak government. Benjamin Disraeli

Cooperating with evil by doing nothing


Evil triumphs when good men do and say nothing

  • A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury. John Stuart Mill
  • All that evil requires is an absence of virtue, where somebody didn’t make a stand. Terry Darlington
  • All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke
  • The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke
  • The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. Albert Einstein
  • Yet, in the face of evil, to sit silent is an even greater evil. Complacency is ever the enabler of darkest deeds. Robert Fanney
  • Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil. Thomas Mann
  • The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it. Ayn Rand
  • The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles. Ayn Rand
  • Silence in the presence of evil is approval.
  • Wickedness goes to great lengths and depths where it is not checked and restrained by the free and continuous expression of the indignation of good men. Henry Ward Beecher
  • When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail. Pearl S. Buck
  • A man that does nothing but watch evil, never will overcome it. Henry Ward Beecher
  • Silence

Accepting evil without protest is cooperating with it

  • He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.  Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good. Mahatma Gandhi
  • The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it is not angry enough. Bede Jarret
  • Where there is no opposition to evil, it multiplies. Joyce Meyer
  • Cooperation

Apathy and indifference work hand in hand with evil

  • Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really…. Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn’t care as long as it’s not personally inconvenienced. Kake Thoene
  • Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. Elie Wiesel
  • Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.
  • Those who choose not to empathize enable real monsters, for without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves we collude with it through our apathy. J. K. Rowling
  • I don’t believe in devils. Indifference and misunderstandings can create evil situations. Most of the time, people who appear to be evil are really victims of evil deeds. Max von Sydow
  • Mistrust the man who finds everything good, the man who finds everything evil and still more the man who is indifferent to everything. Johann K. Lavater
  • Apathy and indifference

Pretending evil doesn’t exist only makes it more menacing

  • The pious pretence that evil does not exist only makes it vague, enormous and menacing. Aleister Crowley

Avoiding and shaking off evil


Beware for one tends to become evil little by little

  • No one becomes depraved all at once. Juvenal
  • Little by little a person becomes evil, as a water pot is filled by drops of water. Little by little a person becomes good, as a water pot is filled by drops of water.  Buddha

The best way to avoid evil is not to begin it

  • The resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible. Thomas Hardy
  • It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil. Henry David Thoreau
  • It is much easier at all times to prevent an evil than to rectify mistakes. George Washington

Avoid lesser evils for greater ones tend to follow at their heels

  • Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it. Baltasar Gracián

Between two evils, choose neither

  • Between two evils, choose neither; between two goods, choose both. Tyron Edwards
  • Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before. Mae West
  • Whenever I’m caught between two evils, I take the one I have never tried before. Mae West
  • Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. Jerry Garcia
  • Where there is a choice of two evils, most men take both. Austin O’Malley
  • We must as second best…take the least of the evils. Aristotle
  • Of two evils, choose the prettier. Carolyn Wells

Turn your back upon evil by turning your heart to good

  • Governments will rise, and governments will fall, and man will do evil to man, and all we can do is turn our hearts to good. Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Never say anything to hurt anyone. Moreover, refrain from double talk, from shrewd and canny remarks that are designed to advance our interests at someone’s disadvantage. We are to turn our back upon evil, and in every way possible, do good, help people and bring blessings into their lives. Norman Vincent Peale
  • We all have bad things inside us, and we all choose either to give in to those bad things or to fight them. Kristin Cast
  • GoodnessRight action

Shake the evil from your heart

  • The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Buddha
  • If there is True Evil in this World, it Lies in the Heart of Mankind. Edward Morrison

Shake the evil from your thoughts

  • The Master said, If out of the three hundred songs I had to take one phrase to cover all my teachings, I would say ‘Let there be no evil in your thoughts. Confucius
  • All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. Gautama Buddha
  • To be free from evil thoughts is God’s best gift. Aeschylus
  • The more you are offended at your evil thoughts, the less they are yours. Benjamin Whichcote
  • Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again. Evelyn Underhill
  • Evil to him who evil thinks. King Edward the Third
  • An evil thought in a soul is like a water-rat swimming in a pond at evening: the rat destroys the iridescent reflection of heaven in the water. Austin O’malley

Focus on good; not evil


Focus on the good rather than dwell on the evil …

  • Every year of my life I grow more convinced that it is wisest and best to fix our attention on the beautiful and the good, and dwell as little as possible on the evil and the false. Richard Cecil
  • Life has a bright side and a dark side, for the world of relativity is composed of light and shadows. If you permit your thoughts to dwell on evil, you yourself will become ugly Look only for the good in everything so you absorb the quality of beauty. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Look for the good, not the evil, in the conduct of members of the family. Proverb
  • Men are slower to recognize blessings than evils. Livy
  • The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good. John Locke
  • The world we live in is a world of mingled good and evil. Whether it is chiefly good or chiefly bad depends on how we take it. To look at the world in such a way as to emphasize the evil is the art of pessimism. To look at it in such a way as to bring out the good, and throw the evil into the background, is the art of optimism. The facts are the same in either case. It is simply a question of perspective and emphasis. William Dewitt Hyde

… for you’ll always find what you look for

  • You find what you look for: good or evil, problems or solutions. John M. Templeton
  • The truth is that most of us see what we are looking for in this world. If we are looking for evil we find it. The reason is not merely that evil exists all around us. There is another reason, far more potent. By looking for evil in our fellow creatures we bring out evil either from them or from ourselves, perhaps from both. John Daniel Barry

Judging evil


Seek to understand the evil doer rather than simply denouncing him

  • Nothing is easier than to denounce the evil doer; Nothing more difficult than understanding him. Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Understanding does not cure evil, but it is a definite help, inasmuch as one can cope with a comprehensible darkness. Carl Jung
  • Let go of the need to judge

When you judge evil in another, turn your eye inward

  • When you have an emotional reaction to what you see, you are judging. That is your signal that you have an issue inside of yourself – with yourself – not with the other person. If you react to evil, look inside yourself for the very thing that so agitates you, and you will find it. If it were not there, you will simply discern, act appropriately, and move on.  Gary Zukav
  • By judging others, we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • If a man has beheld evil, he may know that it was shown to him in order that he learn his own guilt and repent; for what is shown to him is also within him. Baal Shem To
  • He who busies himself with things other than improvement of his own self becomes perplexed in darkness and entangled in ruin. His evil spirits immerse him deep in vices and make his bad actions seem handsome. Ali ibn Abi Talib
  • A man prone to suspect evil is mostly looking in his neighbor for what he sees in himself. Augustus Hare
  • Conquer thy own evils before you judge others. Edward Counsel

Be warier of those who claim to be good than those who admit to being evil

  • People who claim that they’re evil are usually no worse than the rest of us… It’s people who claim that they’re good, or any way better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of. Gregory Maguire

Forgive evil but don’t excuse it

  • When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it. Lewis B. Smedes
  • Forgiveness

Conquering evil


Conquer evil with truth, love and compassion

  • The way to overcome evil is to love something that is good. E. H. Chapin
  • I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Love expects no reward. Love knows no fear. Love Divine gives – does not demand. Love thinks no evil; imputes no motive. To Love is to share and serve. Swami Sivananda
  • Love is patient and kind, Love is not jealous, conceited, proud or boastful, it is not arrogant, selfish, irritable or rude. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth, Love never gives up, and its faith, hope and patience never fail. Love is eternal. 1- Corinthians 13:4
  • Whatever is done for love always occurs beyond good and evil. Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us. Eric Hoffer
  • Love is the medicine of all moral evil. By it the world is to be cured of sin. Henry Ward Beecher
  • Anyone who has killed love within himself is capable of doing evil. David Quartermain
  • Conquer the devils with a little thing called love! Bob Marley
  • Neither love nor evil conquers all, but evil cheats more. Laurell K. Hamilton
  • TruthLoveCompassion

Conquer evil with good

  • Conquer anger by love, evil by good; conquer the miser with liberality, and the liar with truth. Buddha
  • Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil. Our great hope lies in developing what is good. Calvin Coolidge
  • The omission of good is no less reprehensible than the commission of evil. Plutarch
  • This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. Peace Pilgrim
  • In this very real world, good doesn’t drive out evil. Evil doesn’t drive out good. But the energetic displaces the passive. William Bernbach
  • GoodnessVirtue

Conquer evil with mercy

  • It is mercy, not justice or courage or even heroism, that alone can defeat evil. Peter Kreeft
  • Mercy

Conquer evil with patience

  • Patience is that calm and unruffled temper with which a good man bears the evils of life. John Robinson
  • The gods have given unyielding patience as a medicine for incurable evils. Archilochus
  • Patience

Conquer evil with humour

  • Humor is meant to blow up evil and make fun of the follies of life. Will Cuppy
  • The salvation of the world depends on the men who will not take evil good-humouredly, and whose laughter destroys the fool instead of encouraging him. George Bernard Shaw
  • Humour

Strike at the root of evil, not at its branches

  • There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. Henry David Thoreau

Fighting evil can make us evil


Fighting evil often turns good men to evil

  • As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy. Christopher Dawso
  • I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary, the evil it does is permanent. Mahatma Gandhi
  • Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you. Friederich Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Men regard it as their right to return evil for evil and, if they cannot, feel they have lost their liberty. Aristotle

To fight evil can give it life

  • Evil is a hydra with many heads, and the more of them you cut off, the more it grows! Hydras have to be starved to death, do you understand that? Kill a hundred Dark Ones, and a thousand more will take their place. Sergei Lukyanenko

You can’t cure evil with evil

  • If you try to cure evil with evil, you will add more pain to your fate. Sophocles
  • A good man would prefer to be defeated than to defeat injustice by evil means. Sallust
  • All concerns of men go wrong when they wish to cure evil with evil. Sophocles

Never pursue a good end by evil means for that pollutes the soul

  • Never let a man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul. The evil effect on himself is certain. Robert Southey
  • The end excuses any evil. Sophocles

Beliefs that exist around evil


We like to think that all evil will and should be punished ….

  • Not to punish evil is equivalent to authorizing it. Leonardo da Vinci
  • Whatever our creed, we feel that no good deed can by any possibility go unrewarded, no evil deed unpunished. Orison Swett Marden
  • In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand-fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature: these are the spur and reins whereby all mankind are set on work and guided. John Locke
  • The defenders of evil deeds deserve the same punishment as the doers. Edward Counsel

… for that is what justice is

  • Justice must never mirror evil, Justice must always be a mirror for Evil so that all may see. Ahmad Ragab
  • When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. Proverbs 21:15
  • Justice

We like to believe that evil leads to bad karma …

  • The law of karma is neither fatalistic nor punitive; nor is man a hapless, helpless victim in its bonds. God has blessed each one of us with reason, intellect and discrimination, as well as the sovereign free will. Even when our past karma inclines us toward evil, we can consciously tune our inclination towards detachment and ego- free action, thus lightening the karmic load. J. P. Vaswani
  • The person who is basically evil by nature will always be averse to virtuous deeds. He is always engaged in bad karma. Sam Veda
  • Karma

… that if you sow evil, you reap evil

  • Karma is not fate, for man acts with free will, creating his own destiny. The Vedas tell us, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
  • The evil you do to others you may expect in return. Publilius Syrus
  • He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the planner. Hesiod
  • Consequences

Some believe in a God that punishes evil, some don’t

  • I believe in good and evil, said Jem. “And I believe the soul is eternal. But I don’t believe in the fiery pit, the pitchforks, or endless torment. I do not believe you can threaten people into goodness. Cassandra Clare
  • I do not believe in a God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. Albert Einstein

Life is about the struggle of the human heart between good and evil …

  • In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing. Deirdre Sullivan
  • The momentous thing in human life is the art of winning the soul to good or evil. Francis Bacon
  • I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill? John Steinbeck
  • The choice of life is not between fame and fortune, nor wealth and poverty, but between good and evil. Boyd K. Packer
  • Life is a battle

… or is it?

  • Scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch man’s struggle for good and evil seems inadequate. Richard P. Feynman
  • There is no holy life. There is no war between good and evil. There is no sin and no redemption. None of these things matter to the real you. But they all matter hugely to the false you, the one who believes in the separate self. You have tried to take your separate self, with all its loneliness and anxiety and pride, to the door of enlightenment. But it will never go through, because it is a ghost. Deepak Chopra
  • The struggle between good and evil is the primal disease of the mind,’ wrote the sixth-century Zen master Seng- ts’an. Stephen Mitchell

The silver lining in evil


Evil exists so that good can prevail over it

  • This is a moral universe, which means that despite all the evidence that seems to be to the contrary, there is no way that evil and injustice and oppression and lies can have the last word. . . that is what has upheld the morale of our people, to know that in the end good will prevail. Desmond Tutu
  • There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it. Buddha
  • Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always. Mahatma Gandhi
  • The question why there is evil in existence is the same as why there is imperfection… But this is the real question we ought to ask: Is this imperfection the final truth, is evil absolute and ultimate? Rabindranath Tagore
  • Evil often triumphs, but never conquers. Joseph Roux

It is through evil that we learn the value of good

  • I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt heartache. You can’t have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can’t know what it’s like to feel holy until you know what it’s like to feel really fucking evil. And you can’t be birthed again until you’ve died. Kelly Cutron
  • It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest. Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • Learning

The relationships between good and evil


There is often a permeable line between good and evil

  • The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces. Philip Zimbardo
  • There is such a thing as doing good that evil may come. Samuel Butler
  • Evil is only good perverted. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Evil exists to glorify the good. Evil is negative good. It is a relative term. Evil can be transmuted into good. What is evil to one at one time, becomes good at another time to somebody else. Mencius
  • In many cases, it is very hard to fix the bounds of Good and Evil, because these part, as Day and Night, which are separated by Twilight. Benjamin Whichcote

Good and evil often becomes blended and hard to tell apart

  • For every life and every act consequence of good and evil can be shown and as in time results of many deeds are blended so good and evil in the end become confounded. T. S. Eliot
  • One that confounds good and evil is an enemy to good. Edmund Burke
  • The hardest fact in the world to accept is the inevitable mixture of evil with good in all things. Austin O’Malley
  • The ultimate test … to see the good in evil and the evil in good. Frank Herbert
  • Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good. Ralph Waldo Emerson

What seems evil can become a source of good if faced

  • Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. Henry Miller

When evil befalls you, try to turn it to good

  • Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers. Leigh Hunt
  • Evil exists to glorify the good. Evil is negative good. It is a relative term. Evil can be transmuted into good. What is evil to one at one time, becomes good at another time to somebody else. Mencius
  • God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist. Saint Augustine

Good can turn to evil

  • All evil is good become cancerous. Isaac Asimov
  • Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil. Niccolo Machiavelli
  • All things truly wicked start from an innocence. Ernest Hemingway

Simply being against evil doesn’t make you good

  • Being against evil doesn’t make you good. Ernest Hemingway
  • One does evil enough when one does nothing good. German Proverb

Nature makes no distinction between good and evil

  • Nature doesn’t recognize Good and Evil. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance. Walter Bishop
  • Nature has no principles. She makes no distinction between good and evil. Anatole France
  • The sun also shines on the wicked. Seneca

Much of what we call evil can turn out of be good in disguise

  • Much that we call evil is really good in disguises; and we should not quarrel rashly with adversities not yet understood, nor overlook the mercies often bound up in them. Horace Mann
  • The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us. Friedrich Nietzsche

Evil is easy; goodness takes effort

  • Evil is committed without effort, naturally, fatally; goodness is always the product of some art. Charles Baudelaire
  • Goodness speaks in a whisper, evil shouts. Tibetan Proverb
  • All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy. Scott Alexander
  • It’s better to be good than evil, but one achieves goodness at a terrific cost. Stephen King
  • Evil is easy and has infinite forms. Blaise Pascal
  • Evil is always possible. Goodness is a difficulty. Anne Rice
  • Effort

Evil tends to get far more attention and recall than good

  • The evil that men do lives on the front pages of greedy newspapers, but the good is oft interred apathetically inside. Brooks Atkinson
  • Men’s evil manners live in brass, their virtues we write in water. William Shakespeare

For every act of evil, there are a dozen acts of goodness

  • I have heard and seen many examples of the cruelty that we are able to visit on one another during my time. . . I have also seen incredible forgiveness and compassion. Yes, each of us has the capacity for great evil.  But for every act of evil there are a dozen acts of goodness in our world that go unnoticed.  It is only because we believe that people should be good that we despair when they are not.  Indeed, if people condoned the evil, we would be justified in losing hope.  But most of the world does not. We know that we are meant for better. Desmond Tutu

Never mistake necessary evils for good

  • Do not let us mistake necessary evils for good. C. S. Lewis
  • It may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good. Margaret Mead

Final thoughts


Evil is never justified


Conscience is the window of the soul; evil is the curtain

  • Conscience is the window of our spirit, evil is the curtain. Doug Horton
  • An evil person is like a dirty window, they never let the light shine through. William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Conscience

Without wisdom, even seeming virtues can turn to evil

  • But goodness alone is never enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil. Robert A. Heinlein
  • The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil. Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Edmund Burke
  • Wisdom

Worrying about potential evil in the future is a waste of mental energy

  • Anxiety about the future never profits; we feel no evil until it comes, and when we feel it, no counsel helps; wisdom is either too early or too late. Arthur Somers Roche
  • How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened. Thomas Jefferson
  • Nothing is so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes. What madness it is to be expecting evil before it comes. Seneca
  • The wise man avoids evil by anticipating it. Publilius Syrus
  • Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil. Aristotle
  • The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good. John Locke
  • If evils come not, then our fears are vain: And if they do, fear but augments the pain. Benjamin Franklin
  • It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen. Herodotus

Imaginary evils are incurable

  • Don’t let us make imaginary evils, when you know we have so many real ones to encounter. Oliver Goldsmith
  • Imaginary evils are incurable. Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach

To ignore evil is childish but to bewail it is senseless

  • There is no explanation for evil. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it senseless. William Somerset Maugham

It is left to the victims and the historians to decide where evil lies

  • Very few people see their own actions as truly evil…. It is left to their victims to decide what is evil and what is not. Laurell K. Hamilton
  • There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies. Glen Cook

Better the evil you know

  • Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t. Proverb
  • Keep what you have; the known evil is best. Plautus
  • The evil that we know is best. Plautus

Forget good and evil and choose well-being instead

  • What would our world be like if we ceased to worry about “right” and “wrong,” or “good” and “evil,” and simply acted so as to maximize well-being, our own and that of others? Would we lose anything important? Sam Harris
  • Well-being

Forget good and evil and seek to know only the facts instead

  • Those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires. Bertrand Russell
  • Facts

Friends are a great good – unless they happen to be evil

  • Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil. Baltasar Gracian
  • On the choice of friends, our good or evil name depends. John Gay
  • An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.
  • Solitude is better than the society of evil persons. Abu Bakr
  • Friendship

On a lighter note 

  • A pessimist is one who when he has a choice of two evils chooses both. Oscar Wilde
  • A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents. L. Mencken
  • Between two evils I always pick the one I never tried before. Mae West
  • Callous: Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another.
  • Conservative: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others. Ambrose Bierce
  • Evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb. Rick Moranis
  • Glutton, n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia. Ambrose Bierce
  • Hear no evil, speak no evil – and you’ll never be invited to a party. Oscar Wilde
  • I have discovered that all human evil comes from this – man’s being unable to sit still in a room. Blaise Pascal
  • I preferred my villains to be evil and stay that way, to act like Dracula rather than Frankenstein’s monster, who ruined everything by handing that peasant girl a flower. He sort of made up for it by drowning her a few minutes later, but, still, you couldn’t look at him the same way again. David Sedaris
  • If you must choose between two evils pick the one you’ve never tried before. Proverb
  • If you see me smiling, it’s because I’m thinking of doing something evil or naughty. If you see me laughing, it’s because I’ve already done it.
  • In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing. Deirdre Sullivan
  • It is a sin to believe evil of others but is is seldom a mistake. L. Mencken
  • Knowledge is power, and power corrupts. So study hard and be evil.
  • Lack of money is the root of all evil. George Bernard Shaw
  • May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin
  • Microsoft isn’t evil, they just make really crappy operating systems. Linus Torvalds
  • Most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally evil but by people being fundamentally people. Terry Pratchett
  • Neither love nor evil conquers all, but evil cheats more. Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Pessimism: When having the choice of two evils, you choose both.
  • Power corrupts. Knowledge is power. Study hard. Be evil.
  • See no evil, hear no evil, date no evil.
  • Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents. L. Mencken
  • The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter. You know, if it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever. Woody Allen
  • The way I understand it the Russians are sort of a combination of evil and incompetence – sort of like the Post Office with tanks.   Emo Phillips
  • There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia. Kurt Vonnegut. Jr.
  • There’s nothing wrong or evil about having a bad day. There’s everything wrong with making others have to have it… with you. Neil Cavuto
  • Whenever I’m caught between two evils, I take the one I have never tried before.
  • When I read about the evils of drinking I gave up reading. Henny Youngman
  • Whenever I’m caught between two evils I take the one I never tried. Mae West
  • Work is a necessary evil to be avoided. Mark Twain