Growing up in Kansas City where people are basically salt of the earth, it never occurred to me as I am sure many other Americans the absolute criminality and maliciousness of human potential.
Freud writes that he was condemned for showing the banality of human instincts but he writes – correctly – that man can be both a saint and a evil person.
Most of us live in polar extremes.
We live is such different universes, that it is as if someone who always lived in the polar north were introduced to the equator, the two types of body temperatures, are so different, causing such different lifestyles, that neither could survive in the other.
The bottom line is, Jewish mysticism confirms this assertion of Freud.
Namely, man should always be wary of the Yetzer Hara, his personal demon which is capable of the most barbaric acts – the proof is, were the men who caused barbarism not men as well? and what was the motive behind it? if not the demon that was leading them; which the greatest demon is ego, the desire for supreme, hence precisely Nazi Germany which believed or desired to be, a super-race, caused such untold suffering; for in their fierce anger over the lack of their prestige, they caused untold human suffering to prove their greatness (for greatness of course can either come by doing something great or conversely standing on someone’s head, thereby, by lowering the other, one confirms their superiority, which is the aim of the Arabs today, anti-semites and very much both the radical leftists and right, for as my father told me from the Talmud, extremists are really the same thing.)
On the other hand, there is a big problem with the bubble Americans grow up into, for this bubble – though on one hand seeing good in others, yet, denies the evil that one oneself is capable of becoming.
And once we deny our own capacity for evil we are actually at such a stage, the perfect receipt to do it – for the demon the Yetzer Hara, can use our good to fool us, for if our behavior is invariably good, then all decisions we make must be good, hence we do not realize that those things we do under righteousness, under holier than thou presumptions, under holy wars (as the left and right extremists fight) are actually evil; for just as you want others to give you the space to make your decisions in life freely, so to must you extend the same courtesy to others.
And hence the only truth is in submission to God, for when we submit our will, when we act as a humble servant to a wisdom greater than ours – to a soul greater than ours, it is then, and only then, that we cannot be conned by our internal rationalization that evil is good.