Nearly all of us are familiar with the concept of Satan, the personification of pure evil. He tempts his victims with the promise of granting them their hopes and dreams, only to pull them into his inferno when they have no way to escape. The Christians like to think of Satan as a red, horned, goat-legged monster (probably in order to make him easier to identify), but in reality, the devil is never so easy to identify. The devil is not a charging mass of soldiers, he will never admit that he bears any ill intentions towards you. He is not HIV, for the only way that he may wreak havoc upon you is by your own consent. As the master of deception, his job is to make you greet him with open, unwitting arms.
Now, the concept of Satan need not be taken literally in order to be potent; I follow no religion and don’t believe the devil is a physical being or even an outside force, but despite my descriptions of him as a largely symbolic being, he is nonetheless very real.
Where is this devil? He manifests himself in our behavior, tempting us to engage in dangerous behavior ranging from procrastination in the face of an ultimate deadline to falling for the tricks of politicians who promise to bring you security by removing restrictions on their power to kill or otherwise coerce you whenever they want. If you gauge his intentions by the smile he wears on his face, then you will fall for him, as he only ceases to smile when he knows that you have no escape from his wrath.
As the danger posed by this force is very real, we must also realize that since our devil is not an external force like the wind or the rain, the key to defeating him is within our own minds. As he can only attack you when you allow him to, you must be able to see past his illusions through the lens of truth. Stand firmly by your goals, your dreams, and your respect for the rights of others, and so long as you do so, he will not be able to open up your door. To do so is by no means easy (and I do not claim, in any way, to be perfect in this regard); he will knock ceaselessly and implore you to let him in, but if you believe strongly enough in what is right, the devil will lose in the end.
Notwithstanding the difficulties of warding off deadly desires within, resisting the will of people who have already succumbed to those temptations is even more complex. You can’t so easily bend the will of a dictator who is intent on killing you, but we can prevent such ugly weeds from growing on humanity by encouraging others to live a moral live and inform them of the dangers they will surely face. If ignorance is the first step towards defeat, then knowledge is the first step towards freedom.
Looking back at what I’ve just said, this post may seem like some sort of secular sermon. Indeed, religious principles operate on a common level with nonreligious principles, and as there are variations of ideas such as the Golden Rule in both Eastern and Western philosophy, we can identify certain morals as basic to our humanity. Killing, stealing, and enslaving are basic wrongs that nearly all of us can identify, and these are some of the principles by which all of us can live a moral life.