In my book, Evil and Harm are synonymous. Harm and hurt are much the same things. Evil, to me, implies human intent. Intent implies awareness.

I would call the recent murders in Pennsylvania evil, but I would also call the slaying of young black Americans evil and with it the activities of organizations that can be shown to promote hurt and harm, among them the NRA, Koch, and Dow.

People are not intrinsically evil

Here is what I would exclude from a definition of evil. I would exclude all characterizations, including my own, for which I am penitent.

I have regularly called both Donald Trump and the GOP evil. I do not subscribe to the "fall of man" theory that says we are intrinsically evil. That has led to a multitude of wrongs. We can choose evil or choose to allow it.

The deciding person

I believe Donald Trump does great harm, but I believe any conscious being including Trump has the freedom to do so. to repent. To call Trump evil is therefore wrong. To call what he does evil is completely correct. Both his words and deeds are potent instruments of harm. I also believe the GOP is capable of repentance. But they have done immense harm via their individual votes.

Universal fallibility

All people have a capacity to decide the values by which they act.

If we pay attention to ourselves and understand how important that is, we can get to the point of avoiding things that harm ourselves or others. All harm is in a sense social. All harm resounds.

All Americans who pay taxes are complicit in all actions that involve fomenting harm in the name of our country. We have created a largely invisible military, but we contribute to the harm it suffers and commits.

The same applies to prisons. As individuals, we are still involved in a web of evil and culpability

Extreme exercise takes a toll

The occasion for this article is today's remarkable story in the NY Times. It deals with a deadly harm where most of us live. Here it is:

I found this story chilling and noticed that the headline included the word "harmful."

What they were talking about is not just harmful but lethal.

We need to be being more clear about harm when it is deadly. If you see in a headline that Trump is inflicting harm on innocent Muslims, it should specify that people have already lost their lives because of Trump's ill-advised actions.

Read the story above and realize this woman came within an inch of her life.

Universal ethics

Evil has a place in a universal vocabulary of ethics. We are the authors of evil from its beginning points in selfishness and greed to its worst manifestations in direct, intentional harm and hurt. The nadir of evil is finally inflicting death, that is, killing.

Getting real about evil is seeing it for what it actually is. And knowing we do it.