January 4, 2010
A Field Guide to Evil would be handy sometimes, wouldn’t it? It could offer graphics that look like geological cross-sections, with their observable layers of rock. Like the earth, evil is multilayered, extending into the past and composed of radically different materials.
Here is a perfect example of what I mean.
Lisa Belkin of the New York Times in her Adventures in Parenting series (take note of the title; that’s one layer) interviews a woman who has become unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 22. She is unmarried and has just been accepted into a prestigious master’s program. Belkin presents Emmie’s case and solicits comments on what the young woman should do about her predicament. Seven hundred readers write in with their ideas. After publicly considering the possibilities of adoption, raising the child and abortion (marriage does not appear to be an option she considers), Emmy opts for an abortion. She ends her meditations on the subject with this kernel of heartfelt wisdom:
If I get my degree then maybe the path it will take me on will lead me to work on women’s issues. Maybe one day I’ll make a million dollars and start a scholarship program for pregnant graduate students. I can’t believe that nothing good can come of this, I know I’ll do something right one of these days.