Archive for the ‘Alexander Solzhenitsyn’ Category

the line separating good and evil passes…through all human hearts

January 15, 2011

It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.

Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: they struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn,  The Gulag Archipelago

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Where evil lies

December 8, 2008

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago

It seems to me that sinful man divides the world up into the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. But man draws those lines according to his ideology. For example, the racist draws the line between good and evil along race lines, the Jihadist along Umma or non-umma lines, some along class lines – but all the time there is the ‘us’ (who are ‘good’) and the others.

But ALL have sinned have fallen short of the glory of God – there’s equality!

Solzhenitsyn, it is said, liked to quote the old Russian proverb: “When evil appears, don’t search the village; search your heart.” Not, as many in the therapeutic West would casually assume, to find our innate goodness: but to face up to the harder truth about ourselves and our capacity for evil.
Once we have faced up to the truth, then, and only then, can we find the cure we cannot find within ourselves. That was only in the one Solzhenitsyn found in the Gulag – ‘the crucified’. Then we will be able to say with him, “I live only once, and I want to act in accord with absolute truth”. Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)