Saturday, October 8, 2011


Of all the creatures that were made, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood he is the only one--the solitary one--that possesses malice. That is the basest of all instincts, passions, and vices--the most hateful. He is the only creature that has pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. Also--in the entire list he is the only creature that has a nasty mind - Mark Twain's Autobiography
Among all the people the most detested before God are two persons. One is he who is devoted to his self. So he is deviated from the true path and loves speaking about (foul) innovations and inviting towards wrong path. He is therefore a nuisance for those who are enamored of him, is himself misled from the guidance of those preceding him, misleads those who follow him in his life or after his death, carries the weight of others' sins and is entangled in his own misdeeds.
The other man is he who has picked up ignorance. He moves among the ignorant, is senseless in the thick of mischief and is blind to the advantages of peace. Those resembling like men have named him scholar but he is not so. He goes out early morning to collect things whose deficiency is better than plenty, till when he has quenched his thirst from polluted water and acquired meaningless things. He sits among the people as a judge responsible for solving whatever is confusing to the others. If an ambiguous problem is presented before him he manages shabby argument about it of his own accord and passes judgment on its basis. In this way he is entangled in the confusion of doubts as in the spider's web, not knowing whether he was right or wrong. If he is right he fears lest he erred, while if he is wrong he hopes he is right. He is ignorant, wandering astray in ignorance and riding on carriages aimlessly moving in darkness. He did not try to find reality of knowledge. He scatters the traditions as the wind scatters the dry leaves.
By God, he is not capable of solving the problems that come to him nor is fit for the position assigned to him. Whatever he does not know he does not regard it worth knowing. He does not realize that what is beyond his reach is within the reach of others. If anything is not clear to him he keeps quiet over it because he knows his own ignorance. Lost lives are crying against his unjust verdicts, and properties (that have been wrongly disposed of) are grumbling against him.
(Sermons, Letters, and Sayings of Ameer al-Mu'mineen by Nahj al Balagha at
Mad dog bites a person. People expect the latter to die. Surprisingly it’s the dog that dies. Hidden therein the man’s blood is the deadlier poison that kills the dog itself. Malice, bogus, is the deadly poison that runs through our blood, but most of us don’t have the courage to admit it. No greater pain can come to us than to hear of another man's well doing; it is a dagger at our hearts. As he did to lose one eye willingly, that his fellow might lose both, nothing fats us but other men’s ruins. Envy, hurt, irritation and pride that spark malice instigate us into feeling that target object of our malice deserves to suffer. Our intentions to inflict pain on others are symbolically like those of the bee that stings an enemy in vengeance, but in the process of using its stinger, initiates its own demise. For evil poisons, malice shafts like boomerang’s return, inflicting wounds that will not heal, while rage and anger burn.
People hate others when they find themselves helpless. When the subconscious mind doesn't find any solution to the problem it uses hatred as a final resort. We hate superiors because we can't shout at them. We hate our jobs much if we can't find alternatives. We hate things when these things harm us and we find ourselves unable to defend ourselves. We are out to take revenge when we have the opportunity to do so. Some bear grudge not only against living beings, but also against lifeless objects such as a stump or a post. They would beat or batter a stump when they stumble over it. When they bump against a post, they would deliberately bump their heads again and again against it. If a thing topples or rolls away or falls down, they would break or throw it away in a rage.
Power corrupts. Weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few. Weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. There is probably an element of malice in the readiness to overestimate people; we are laying up for ourselves the pleasure of later cutting them down to size. Malice delights to blacken the characters of prominent men. Man loves malice, but neither against one-eyed men nor the unfortunate, but against the fortunate and proud. Of the entire animal kingdom man alone possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. At least two thirds of miseries spring from his stupidity and malice.
There is no cure for ossification of the heart; when to the jaundiced eye all good transforms itself into evil, and the very instruments of health become the poison of disease. Malice is of a low stature, but it has very long arms. It often reaches into the next world; death itself is not a bar to it. Malice, like lust, when it is at the height, does not know shame. It’s a formed design of doing mischief to another.
(Adapted from ‘Of malice and hatred’ by Tajamul Hussain at
Too many people just assume that they know what a “good man” is. Because a man or an organization (composed of “good men”) builds hospitals, schools, an orphanage, an old-folks home, gives to medical research, to needy relatives, to charities, or because he is pleasant, honest, kind, loyal, refined, cheerful, honorable, or possesses those qualities which endears him to his neighbor, he is called “good,” a “good man.” People assume that a “good man” is defined in this manner, but rarely do people critically examine the assumption to discover whether a “good man” may actually be what he is generally accepted to be.
(Father Michael Azkoul, Spring Valley, Ill. at
Apart from humans, there is no animal on this planet more cruel than a human. Animals instinctively kill to feed, to procreate and to continue their meaningless cycle of eternal search for more food to maintain the same cycle until evolution says otherwise.
In apes, when a dominant male dies and another takes his place, the very first thing the new dominator will do is kill off the offspring of his former rival. It’s an ironic echo of a feral past throughout human history. Though it is generally accepted that the animal does so to claim more females, it doesn’t mean that the act is cruel in any way, for the animal doesn’t understand what cruelty is and simply performs its preprogrammed duty of ensuring a dominant position and genetic dominance.
On the other hand, humans are the only species on this planet that kill for reasons other than food or self- defense. Unlike our feral cousins, we have minds and highly developed cerebral cortexes that allow us to distinguish between abstract concepts called right and wrong. It is for that reason that we have developed the concept of cruelty as something that falls under the category of wrong, something abhorrent to our psyche.
Hurting anyone or anything that is weaker than the attacker and helpless is perhaps the greatest of all cruelties. This is where deeds cross the threshold of cruelty and into crime territory. Most crimes are based on cruelty. But what is a crime? It is an action committed against law, one might say. But there’s a much deeper meaning to it besides the word penned in iron extending into that which cannot be expressed fully.
Every crime brings with it the irreplaceable and destructive element of emotional distress. In essence, that is the exact meaning of a crime, something that is done not against a collection of words spoken, written and enforced, but something done against the broad and very deeply rooted concept of morality founded on keeping spiritual and emotional harmony without interference into ones peaceful existence. This is where being cruel comes in, for sometimes, an absolute momentary or innate lack of morals can push someone to cause harm for a seemingly meaningless cause that seems essential at the moment to the perpetrator.
But we have evolved to the point where we can give multiple reasons to our crimes. Crime of passion, crime of fraud, murder for hire, political assassination, theft for drugs, rape, mugging, temporary insanity, self-defense, gang murder, revenge, treason, serial murder, pathological disorder, sadism, crime against humanity, to name but a few.
Can the ape claim the same excuses? What is abhorrent in the matter is how shamelessly society forgives everything to forget the concept of morality to return to their daily lives and be rid of troublesome headlines of murder.
Looking at it from such a perspective, we may not differ from the monkey in cruelty in a scenario of seeking power, but in every other respect, we are superior. It’s only a shame that all that superiority is used to condone our own misdeeds and an unmatched appetite for creating ever more vile ways of getting rid of each other.
(God Knows by Rouben Alikian at

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