Evil always lurks by hiding in the shadows

THE biblical story of Saul teaches us a powerful lesson regarding the individual's moral choice and what that choice may lead to.

In ancient Israel, as the era of the judges was ending, it came time for the Israelites to finally have a king. Saul was God's first choice.

He had the strength and support necessary to protect the Israelites and, under God's command, once and for all destroy the threats and spectre of death that the Israelites had lived under for centuries.

And yet when it came to the key battle with the sworn enemy of the Israelites - the nation of Amalek - Saul thought he would be more compassionate than God Himself, ignoring His command by sparing the life of the Amalekite king Agag, the Osama bin-Laden of his time.

Later on in his life, Saul wrongly believed that a young shepherd named David was a challenge to his throne and pursued him with his army.

Mistakenly convinced that a village of priests had aided David's escape, Saul in a fit of paranoia massacred the village.

That's quite a moral shift.

How did such a promising young man, who was hand-picked by God, end up going down such a wicked path?

The Talmud offers this famous response: "Those who are kind when they should be cruel will end up being cruel when they should be kind."

We today witness this teaching unfolding before our eyes, living as we do in a bizarre era where so many people in a position to support nations who stand for freedom and justice choose instead to support forces of evil, all in the name of compassion.

Why in a world where we know what organisations like Hamas stand for - brutality towards women, murder of gays, suppression of freedom, genocidal aspirations towards the Jews - can people elevate the terrorist organisation over democratic Israel?

The answer lies in evil's ability to hide in the shadows and escape the light of scrutiny.

To hide behind masks as it commits atrocities. To cower behind lies and propaganda that ensnare the illiterate and befuddle the blind. It is found in the refusal to analyse and scrutinise one's own biases and to uncover the contradictions and fallacies that pervade one's own thinking.

Hamas, Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah all thrive due to a deficiency of information and critical thinking on the part of the public.

People whose knowledge of the Middle East comes from pictures on the Internet of Israel dropping bombs on Gaza will quickly conclude that Israel is the aggressor.

Morality that results from two-dimensional images rather than deep-seated values cannot easily distinguish between right and wrong. This phenomenon is found in William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, where otherwise innocent young boys slowly turn into savages.

Golding understood all too well how depraved action, when freed from the light of scrutiny, can corrupt one's very humanity. In describing the character of Jack, Golding wrote how the boy began painting his face and how "the mask was a thing of its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness".

The boys who challenged and refused to be taken in by the evil "understand only too well the liberation into savagery that the concealing paint brought".

"Jihadi John", once an aspiring British rapper, committed some of the most ghastly crimes imaginable while hiding his face behind a black mask.

Hooded Hamas executioners who were themselves once just innocent children grew up to be monsters, able to freely murder dissidents in broad daylight, knowing their masks would both conceal their identities while simultaneously strike fear in those who would challenge them.

Evil flourishes when concealed. Brutality thrives in fog.

Hitler only started his programme of mass genocide against the Jews under the cover of the Second World War, just as the Turks had done to the Armenians a quarter of a century earlier under the cover of the First World War. Kim Jong Un, the monstrous young dictator of North Korea, commits his atrocities - as did his father and grandfather - in the most inaccessible regime on earth.

And in this latest terror war against Israel, Hamas fired its murderous rockets from under tents, all the better to conceal their genocidal intent.

Then there are those individuals who hide behind organisations - distorting facts and perpetrating outright slander - allowing evil to proliferate.

Hiding behind warped morals and a political correctness that has become extreme, it accomplishes the opposite of its intended purpose.

Recently it was discovered that a gang of paedophiles had molested more than 1,400 girls in Britain. They got away with this crime for 15 years because authorities, abetted by the police, did not wish to seem racist in investigating the issue because the alleged perpetrators were of Pakistani origin.

Brutality dare never be allowed in the name of compassion.

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