Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I picked up an interesting book the last time I hit the local university library, People of the Lie, the Hope for Healing Human Evil, by Dr. M. Scott Peck.

Tis true, that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so I ought not to read too much into my miniscule comprehension of his theories about the nature of human evil.

But the doc makes some very, very valid points. As others have noted, evil can be quite banal. Evil people are not necessarily and perhaps hardly ever, wild-eyed, drooling cartoon villians. In fact, they are often quite the opposite -- seemingly successful and highly civilized ... even cordial and pleasant until their true depravity is probed.

Normal people who encounter evil people quite typically feel a peculiar sense of confusion, Dr. Peck writes. That goes to the heart of his thesis: that evil is all about a lie, a web of lies built up to shield oneself from any sense of personal imperfection. Instead, a scapegoat is sought, a fantasy constructed, so that the narcissist within can remain untouched.

There have been times in my life where I have indeed met people who left me with a highly disturbing sense of confusion. I couldn't put my finger on it. Now maybe I have an answer.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feeling piney

Why is it that "to pine" in English connotates a bad thing? I like pines. Pines in the sunshine smell like summer to me. A forest of pines is soft underfoot (except for the cones), and still, and peaceful. A pine is also the tree you are most likely to meet gripping the rocky edge of some wind-blasted mountainside.

While the oaks and maples stand stark and skeletal in winter, pines persist, presenting their display of green even in the depths of December.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Interface ... when one thing meets another.

I stopped by our local urban greenspace today, parked my car, made sure all the doors were locked. Looked around me carefully. Crimes happen here. Evidence of illicit nocturnal activity lay on the ground around me.

But once I had left the parking lot behind and plunged myself into the woodland, my fears calmed. I observed waterfowl skipping across the lake, squirrels scrambling through the pines, and found the tightly wrapped buds of trailing arbutus, a few days away from their moment of glory.

In the woods, I was at ease. At the interface, at the border of man and nature, my hackles were up.

Thus is it always. The interface is the most dangerous. Cautious are the steps of a stray dog as he approaches a potential rescuer. The outstretched hand could pet, or it could smite. Every sailor knows that he is at more risk when approaching land than when he is out to sea. Every couple began as utter strangers who for the prize of perfect intimacy took the chance of a broken heart, or worse.

But what are the alternatives? The moon has no interface, unless one counts where sterile space meets the dead landscape of rocks and craters. There are no crashing waves upon a shore, no tortuous tangles of mangrove swamps between river's flow and land's comfort.

Without interface, is isolation, is sterility. Life requires it, life demands it.