Why this matters….

The distinction I made in the last post (evil as opposed to mental illness) matters a great deal.  In a discussion in my Facebook, a friend said “People in their right minds don’t kill other people. Period. Whatever you want to call it…I would not want to work with someone who might decide to kill me, I do not want to be friends with them, since they might kill me, and I don’t want them marrying into my family since they might kill me.”

I responded “Do you think I might kill you?”

“No,” she shot back, “I know you….”

Exactly. She knows me.  She knows I would not hurt her, or anyone else. (I’ve never been a danger to anyone other than occasionally myself.) But if she didn’t, if all she knew about the mentally ill was what she saw on cable news and crime shows, if the words “mental illness” only brought forth images of Dylann Roof, Eliot Rogers, and Adam Lanza, then she might well refuse to work with me, or be friends with me, or have me marry into her family.  Because all she would know of mental illness — or most of what she would know of mental illness — would be that mentally ill people are a dangers to others.

Evil exists. Eliding the difference between it and mental illness presents real dangers of making lives even harder for a lot of people who have life difficult enough.

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