I Sadly Believe in Evil

Erica - Los Angeles, California
Entered on April 17, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: good & evil
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe evil exists and although I try to be the best person I can be, nothing I do will ultimately wipe out mankind’s darker side. It’s embarrassing to admit it, but I don’t believe good can trump bad. I sadly accept that my wish for people to be kind ultimately loses out to their darker nature.

My innocence was shattered when I was seven and learned my father had been in the Holocaust. I shivered under the thin comforter and prayed to the white klieg lights sweeping across my window, “I’ll never let them hurt you again, Daddy”. My take-away lesson was that hateful hearts could wipe us out on a whim. My sense of safety was shattered. Already a nervous child, I became a full-fledged and life-long insomniac, suffering night terrors. Later, when I saw pictures of the prisoners lined up in the snow, soldiers aiming rifles at their heads, I got even more scared.

I tried to be a perfect little girl. Maybe my careful actions would offset what the Nazis had already done to my father and our family. Of course there was no way a small child could repair the horrors of the Holocaust. But I didn’t know that.

I ‘traveled light and ran fast’, always looking for the exits. If a train came for the Jews again, I knew I would be on it. My first job at CBS News confirmed and depressed me. Daily stories about genocides, gang warfare, and terrorists proved that sickos were everywhere. I transferred into Programming, where I could hide from the onslaught of despair.

Fast forward to 9/11. When I saw the airplanes aiming for the World Trade Center, I wasn’t surprised. Why not? It was evil incarnate. No children of survivors I talked to were shocked, actually. We shrugged, “So?” We already believed people could do horrible things to each other. After all, the worst imaginable had happened to our parents and grandparents. So?

And yet, I naively hope people can do the right thing. I try to believe others might care, even when their deepest nature is twisted and perverse. There is that intensely personal moment where we can choose whether to act humanely or insanely. Some of us will do anything to preserve our world view. I watch people carefully, always hypervigilant to their inner rhythms. Someone must prove themselves worthy of my trust, and yet I desperately want to believe they will show me their soft sweet center.

I live in a state of constant balance, trying to keep cruelty at bay. I try my best to do the right thing daily, as if a small strike of light might banish some of the demons that lurk out there. I will not let the inevitable beat me. Goodness will prevail, at least for me.