Evil

Question: 

This may not be the proper forum; I don't know who else to ask. My Unity minister denies the existence of evil and for this reason she refuses to go see Avatar, because there is "war" in the movie. Evil exists! Is this denial a common held belief amongst people who are part of Unity?

Comment: 

I don't want to get into a theological argument with another Unity minister, but it's safe to say that flatly denying the existence of evil is not a universally held attitude in the movement. Our basic belief is that there is only one Presence and one Power in the universe—God the Good, Omnipotence. So it is certainly true that there is not a power called evil opposite to God. If there were a not-God power called evil, and a not-God place called hell, then we could not speak of a God of omnipotence and omnipresence.
 
But that does not mean that evil doesn't exist—within this human experience of duality. Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore taught that evil is ignorance—it isn't a power separate from God, it's rather a perceived power that gains its strength from our collective ignorance of our true spiritual identity. The fact that it has no reality in the dimension of Truth doesn't mean that it isn't a formidable challenge to be dealt with so long as we are in human form.
 
The question is, then, how to deal with the evil appearances that confront us daily. Some believe that we must face them fearlessly, embrace them and dissolve their power. Others prefer to refuse to deal with the appearances of evil at all, lest we give it additional power through our focus on it. I can easily understand both points of view, although I believe that avoiding the appearances of evil out of fear of their power actually gives them much more power. Better, I think, to learn to “see rightly.” My favorite spiritual paradigm for life in this human realm is the Hero's Journey. And every Hero's Journey—from the Bible to the Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter to, yes, Avatar—recognizes that we are not here to avoid evil, but to dissolve it. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, evil can seem terrifyingly real and threatening. But even a drop of the water of spiritual Truth reveals that evil is only a basically harmless illusion.
 
So yes, I strongly wish that Avatar had had the courage of its initial convictions and hadn't settled for a dualistic shoot-em-up to resolve its story. It prevents it from being the work of true art and spiritual worth that I think it was trying to be. But I'm not sorry I saw it; I enjoyed much of it a great deal, and I don't think that watching it in any way increases the effect of evil in the world—so long as I see it from a spiritual perspective that affirms the unity behind the apparent duality.
 
Blessings!

Rev. Ed