The Myth of Good and Evil: From Hitler to Mother Teresa

These days, the archetypes of good and evil in our society are Mother Teresa and Hitler, respectively. If you start with these two as the paradigms, it becomes pretty easy to figure out what “Good” and Evil” are really all about.

I admit that I have never met Adolf Hitler. Fortunately for this blog post, however, I have met Mother Teresa. It was in Toronto, Canada back in ’84. She was giving a speech at Shea Stadium and I  (being the ‘good Catholic boy destined for priesthood’) was brought to Toronto to be introduced to a living saint.

The woman was a bitch to me.

I shook her hand and she sneered. I said a few words— basic niceties of some sort— and she just glowered at me. After about three seconds, she turned to the security people with her and said “Get rid of him.” They did.

I suspect I would have done better meeting Hitler.

Years later, I learned that Mother Teresa had a disdain for males. This information came to me as I read about the series of accusations leveled against Mother Teresa shortly before her death. It seems that many in India thought she was misappropriating the funds she had raised, using them to build more convents instead of feeding the poor.  She explained that this was her answer to the cruelty of the streets of Calcutta: The more girls there were in convents, the better things were on the streets.

The problem, of course, was that this policy prevented males, married couples, and any girl who did not want to be a nun from getting food or help. Many were pissed about it, and sought to have her relieved of her duties. The Church and the media basically rode out the accusations until she died, and whitewashed it all with a canonization.

Now, this doesn’t make her “evil” or anything, but it does show some normal, human fuckedupedness in this icon of ultra “Good”.

[I can just hear people out there thinking “He’s not going to try to defend Hitler now, is he?”]

Hitler was responsible for killing lots of Jews, and starting a World War. This makes it a tad hard to portray the man as “good”.  However, I’ve always been of the opinion that Hitler was really just a man of his times. Hear me out here…

Long before WWII, there were pogroms throughout Europe. (POGRAMS were mass killings, usually of Jews. See the WIKI.) The genocide of WWII was basically just another pogrom. This is why Hitler’s plan was called ‘The Final Solution’… other extermination plans had been tried before and failed.  The Nazis reasoned that only a large, coordinated pogrom could achieve the genocide they wanted. It was the ‘final solution’ in a series of attempts, not the stand-alone event that many see it as  today.

Here’s bit of little-known Hitler history for you:

In 1939, before his extermination of Jews began, 937 Jews got onto a boat (the S.S. St. Louis) and tried emigrate to anywhere that would accept them. These Jews, having a good idea of what returning to Europ meant, traveled to every port of call they could find, asking for refugee status. None of the allied countries (who were supposedly appalled by Hitler’s Final Solution) would accept a single Jew into their country. Every one of the 937 Jews on that boat were forced to return to Europe to face the concentration camps.

Follow this forward: During the war, German troops were stretched thin, the supplies were dwindling, and Germany still had hundreds of thousands of Jews in concentration camps that no other country would take off their hands. The Nazis couldn’t feed their own men, and they certainly couldn’t feed the hated Jews in the camps. This is why the corpses of the dead were found so malnourished… Hitler was unwilling to “waste” resources on the concentration camps when his own soldiers were starving in the field. When it came down to it, a prisoner in the camps had to show that they could contribute to the war effort, or they were killed.  The Nazi’s only other option was to keep them alive, but starving.

Is this evil incarnate? As I said, I’ve always seen Hitler as a man of his times. These Jews could easily have been granted refugee status in any of dozens of countries, but were rejected.

Still, when it was all over and the cameras moved into the death camps, the rest of the world was able to relieve their guilt by elevating the evil of Hitler. He was the madman. He hated and killed them all. He was the very essence of EVIL.

We, of course, were the good guys. We “saved the Jews”.  (Except for the millions who could have emigrated to the USA in 1939 but were flatly rejected.)

The point of all this is simple: Good and Evil are just monikers. Every icon has a story behind it. More often than not, the elevated status of saints and demons are created to make us feel the way we want to feel.   Mother Teresa is good and holy because she takes  our $10.00 donation and makes us feel better about poor starving children in India.  Hitler is ultimate evil because he exonerates our own guilt.  In Hitler’s case, his designation even allowed us to feel superior and heroic.

There is no ultimate evil in the world, any more than there is ultimate good. They’re just words we use to get over our own guilt, or to make ourselves look good.  People are people, some more fucked up than others, but all of us fall within that five percent deviation from the norm.

Beware anyone who tells you different.

Written by Wm. Hopper,

The above post was edited to correct abjectly stupid errors of fact that occurred in the original post. Thanks to for the one-up.

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29 Responses to “The Myth of Good and Evil: From Hitler to Mother Teresa”
  1. Paul says:

    I believe it should be POGROM not POGRAM which is basically Russian for destruction

  2. Yup, you’re right. I did the Wikki link right, but screwed up the spelling in the blog. Fixed it. Thanks.

  3. Margo says:

    Wow, great post! Just found your blog, and it seems cool :)
    I am inclined to agree with you on the issue of Mother Teresa, but not as inclined about the Hitler issue, primarily because I am Jewish and most of my grandparents’ family were murdered by the Nazis. Saying that they were only as evil as the rest of the world doesn’t make them less evil. It just means that other people were acting immorally, as well. (And just for the record, I do not believe that there is ultimate good and evil.) So I would say that Hitler is evil, in my eyes. He led the Nazis, he motivated them, he is primarily responsible for what happened there, but the rest of the people who cooperated or did nothing are partially responsible, as well.

  4. Excellent post. About time somebody cut Lucifer a break.

  5. Anita says:

    How did you arrive at 5-per-cent deviation from the norm? And wouldn’t the norm imply a point on some sort of continuum with evil on one side and good on the other? Do you think your argument would fly for a family who has experienced the loss of a daughter to rape and murder by a sociopath? Would the murderer fall within the 5-per-cent deviation from the norm. You said all of us do.

    How do you cope with evil in the world if you can’t even recognize it?

    As for Mother Theresa, perhaps she felt she was in the presence of evil when she was beside you. In that case, wouldn’t it make sense to call security?;)

    But seriously, what can we glean from a few idle statements about your meeting with her? That she wasn’t perfect? A saint doesn’t have to have been perfect. St. Augustine fathered a child out of wedlock, for instance.

    We are all called to be saints. A saint is any person who has died and gone to Heaven. We don’t know who most of them are. But sometimes the Church considers somebody to have led a life of such exemplary holiness that they are considered for canonization, an official declaration that the person is a saint.

  6. vipin paul says:

    hey nice post man its all good what u have written
    but tell u smthing plz try 2 improve ur words & try to make ur language a little bit polite . that ” bitch ” was not good at all.

  7. Anita says:

    vipin paul: if there is no good or evil, it doesn’t matter at all what he calls a good and holy person like Mother Theresa. Only your man-made sensitivities have been offended.

  8. SM says:

    I agree with Anita (except for her last paragraph).
    I agree with the author, but only insofar as his point is intended to indicate that good and evil is not fully manifested within mankind. If he is also trying to say that full manifestations of good and evil do not exist, he is mistaken, and likely deluded (an effective tool of the enemy of mankind). Choosing to remain ignorant of truth does not change reality – it changes only your perception of it.

  9. Reality is what I am talking about. In reality, there are no demons or saints walking about.

  10. alex says:

    Paypal is not letting me buy your book.
    They say something is wrong with your website.
    Help me.

  11. Which book? The Xmas one isout of print until next season. The HG to WR should be ok… let me know.

  12. Aneko says:

    I am Russian, and Hitler can be considered responsible for the death of many Russians as well (not just Jews – and gosh, why is everything always about the Jews?). However, I respect Hitler as a great leader of his nation and a man of great courage and willpower. Actually, I respect him most for caring about his own people (as opposed to the Russian leaders, who led their own people to slaughter blindly – stubborn victory at all costs, where it could be achived with much less victims). Thanks for pointing out that Hitler is only hated so much because this hatred is what allows other nations feel superior and indulge their own ignorance.

  13. quinn says:

    i agree with Aneko, Hitler was a great leader, he wanted Jews and Russians, gypsies and other groups such as these off the planet, however people blaming only Hitler like Margo say he did lead them (thought others might have done worse to jews) Few countries such as the U.S or Britain can say they did all they could to protect them, Denmark is a country that can say that, they gave Germany food and other rescources (in bulk) in return for not harming there aprox. 6,000 jews for the extents of the the German occupation

    (many of my fact like the Denmark one came from a book i read 1-2 years and lost -_- sop if i’m wrong sorry)

  14. anotherheathen says:

    The Missionaries Of Charity (that’s the Catholic order of Mother Teresa) in India mostly kidnap children off the streets. They identify poverty struck people and target them and of course the children are brought up Catholic ; working as slaves in the convents once they are about 7-8 years old, and a lot of them are sexually abused by the “holy fathers”.

    “Bitch” is too good for her.

  15. v says:

    NONE of the Jews from S.S. St. Louis returned to Germany. They were taken by several countries as refugees… England, France, Belgium and Holland if I remember correctly. And Hitler did not “put them on a boat and told them they could emigrate to any country in the world”. It was a regular line to Havana – they could “choose” only Cuba – but were declined as Cuba’s imigration rules were changed and became very strict earlier that year. They all had visas (landing permits or whatever) which were nullified in the meantime by the new law and no money to buy new ones.

    And your justification for the starvation to death is below common sense. The very fact they were separated and put in “camps” should be wrong enough to an average mind.

    BOTH Teresa and Hitler were much more evil than you depicted them here.

  16. I have to learn not to blab on. You are right, they were not sent back to Germany, they were sent back to continental Europe where the vast majority of them were killed in the holocaust. My point, however, was that the USA, Canada, and other supposed “allied nations” refused to take them even knowing what they faced back in Europe.

    My “justification” for the camps is not a justification… it is what happened. The SS sold the idea of camps tot he people by saying they were freeing up “Germany for the Germans”. As the Jews ( had not assimilated, they were “other”. As they could not emigrate, they were interned.

    As for Hitler and Mother Teresa, they were human. As such, I think they really believed that what they were doing was right and good. That’s my thesis here really… I don’t think anyone ever goes out to commit “true evil”. It usually just deep selfishness, but they use a God or patriotism to justify it to themselves and others.

    I will edit the posting based on your insight, however. Thx for this.

  17. Milk Cow says:

    I agree with your message, the way that I understand it. There is the possibility of good and evil in everyone. There are consequences for both. For the general population – of – law abiding citizens, there is a different set of rules and standards that is held individually. The things of capability varies under inner and outer circumstances of which an individual is going through or has gone through. Happenstance, etc. may alter ones’ ability or insight to direct or discern decisions for quality-outcome of issues. I believe that most people are mostly good and what may seem evil may not necessarily be evil; in the same token – what may seem good may not necessarily be good. Example: Laws to protect – in theory. Take away enough “privileges” – and – leave no rights, freedoms, and no protection for individuals. Loopholes for those who qualify. The more laws, the less freedom. This promotes less space for individuals to consider outcomes before decisions are made: good or evil. I have no problem with the perception you had in the way you were treated by Mother Teresa. The broad forum in which you chose to express it was a very bold move, because in the name of respect – just like she treated you less than she should have (or less than you thought she should have) – was wrong for her to do. Maybe you should have toned down your expression for the disappointing event. If I met someone from a position of her stature, I would be in shock to be treated the way you were treated. You did not call her the “B” word, you were simply stating your perception of the issuance of her authority without tact. I got the message, but it was still a bold move on your part. People do not like the truth put as bluntly as you put it. I have issues with individuals who over exercise their authority. I bash them in the privacy of my home, while I digest what has happened in the first place, and then regroup and find tactful ways to deal with the situation if opportunity presents itself- and possible situations that may arise, later. I do not believe all that I read or hear. I have never thought Hitler to be all bad. He was made out to be much worse that he was. He may have been or done very grotesque and bad things. He did the job he had – to his ability. He was made the fall guy for everyone. People have a tendency to point out others faults to make themselves look better and to differ attention away from themselves – good or evil. I believe he may have known too much and was ostracized because of the knowledge he possessed. He seemed an intelligent human. I believe he just got caught up in a lot of ideals and situations that were out of his control – and somewhere in the middle, he lost control himself and ended up being the scapegoat. As for Mother Teresa; You expected grandma and got the wolf. I am sorry you had to go through that. Because others are doing wrong, doesn’t mean one is not responsible for their own individual behavior. A single person should not have to take the fall for the entire suit of people who are doing evil. Both of these individuals did evil due to their position. One was more by choice than the other.

  18. I contend, though, that “good” and “evil” do not exist in reality. They are words we use to demonize or glorify people. Everyone THINKS they are acting “good”… even Hitler. What I argue against is the common notion that there are saints and devils in the world. People are people… Mother Teresa and Hitler alike. As for my experience with Mother Teresa, I bare no grudge. She was who she was. A lot of people are miserable or have phobias/dislikes. I just happened to hit on hers by being male.

    As for saying all this in public, it’s what I do (with religion anyway). I believe intently that whatever good religions do in the world is offset by the myriad of oppression, dysfunction and (predominantly) egomania that you find in churches, synagogues, and mosques alike. It’s time folks said what they really think about it all. The option is status quo which— as 9/11 and a dozen recent wars have shown– is not “good”.

  19. H. Bruhl says:

    I came across the following in my reading: When Mother Teresa was once asked why she dedicated her life to the poor and needy of Calcuta, she is said to have replied:”Because I realized that I had a Hitler within me.”
    Do all humans have a dark side? Capable of evil?

  20. IMHO, “holy” people are selfish. “Evil” people are selfish and scared.

  21. Citizen says:

    Excellent post, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    It is unfortunate that Mother Teresa was so biased, or even, dare I say,
    prejudiced against males. It does show that empathy has limits, and compassion is in short supply.

    As for Der Fuhrer, he was definitely a man working within the confines of the environment. I always found ironic the fact that so many countries rejected the Jews multiple times.

    Then again, if we rounded up the 12-15 million illegal aliens residing in the US, and tried to send them to Europe or Asia, the receiving countries would undoubtedly decline. Hell, even Mexico doesn’t want them back. Of course, 937 is a far cry from double-digit millions.

    I end with these interesting words:

    “It is remarkable that the states whose public opinion is in favour of the Jews all refuse to accept our Jews from us. They say they are magnificent pioneers of culture, and geniuses in economics, diplomacy, philosophy, and poetry, yet the moment we try to press one of these geniuses upon them, they clamp down their frontiers: ‘No, no! We don’t want them!’ I think it must be unique in the history of the world, people turning down geniuses.”

    – Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels

  22. Francis says:

    I am appalled by this this whitwash of the Nazi genocide. Whatever about Mother Teresa’s misguided motives, the epitome of evil is the systematic attempt to destroy an entire ethnicity or group of people for being different.

  23. admin says:

    Then define “evil”. For the most part, it”s usually just a word people throw around that does nothing more than sound scary.

  24. mollyfurie says:

    I remember finding and reading old American magazines from the 30s as a teenager. Not radical right magazines, not even particularly political magazines. Women writers GUSHED over Hitler. Male writers praised Mussolini. Lots of people entertained fascism – as they do now, without calling it fascism. I wondered if it wasn’t an accident of timing or a quirk of leadership, that we ended up as ALLIES, instead of joining the AXIS.

  25. Satyajeet says:

    India/ Bharat is the only country, which in its 2000 yrs of History, haven’t prosecuted its minorities, in fact have accepted them. Both Jews and parsies came to Bharat and stayed as sugar in milk.

  26. admin says:

    (Tell that to the Shudra.) Do you ever get anyone to believe that? Indian persecution of their own castes is appaling.


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