Evil, we’ve experienced every sort throughout our brief time here as a species- and for the longest time; these evils were defined to be external entities. We’re now at a rather strange era in our evolution, one in which we as a whole have made the evil an internal aspect of our livelihoods. A study conducted by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation was dedicated to these very evils and termed them as ‘social evils’. Now I won’t get into the literature of the study but I will paraphrase, and my understanding is that the idea of a social evil stems when there exists a lack of education on the shortcomings of society. Shortcomings exist in all walks of life and with them, generally negative actions follow, these are those evils. Social evils are growing in number, but the ones that plague humanity the most are racism, child abuse, inequality, prostitution and substance abuse. If you’re questioning why it’s only these five and not the others, well these five are said to be prevalent in some form in most societies be it in a developed or developing country and that’s saying a lot.
What qualifies as ‘evil’?
If you’ve noticed, not all of these evils are a crime, which goes to say that not everything requires a criminal to be evil. The notion that an educated society is one with lesser evils is right in essence; there exists data that shows a decline in 4 of the 5 evils in an educated society, but what does it mean to be educated. To quote Plato, “Ignorance is the root and stem of all evils”, and being ignorant isn’t exclusive to the illiterate or uneducated. Our goal here is to focus on the role education plays to those that are the unfortunate victims of these evils and to introduce them to the luxury of freedom that only education can provide.
Let’s take the instance of racism; this social evil is beyond judgement solely on prejudice. While that too occurs, it takes an ignorant mind to judge someone negatively based on a birth trait. This is where the educated mind stands out; an educated mind would know the value of an exclusive trait rather than nit-pick to instil a false sense of security in themselves.
In its simplest form, is judging another human being negatively based on the race they were born into. During the financial year of 2016-2017, over 80,000 hate crimes against race were reported in London and that number has steadily risen by 29% since 2015- the largest in the last 6 years. 1 in every 10 people in London is a victim of racism. A clear solution to this would be an understanding of the race being judged, educating oneself on the strengths of it and knowing better than to belittle. Educations role here is twofold; the first being that it would open up our minds to new information, it would also teach us to be understanding and empathetic to a different walk of life. Information is power in today’s society, and if the allure of being a better person isn’t enough, you can always educate yourself for the power. A terrible evil that; hopefully with the advancement of technology and the ease of access to education, will soon be forgotten.
Inequality has its ties to gender discrimination among other evils like racism and follows a similar pattern to being dealt with. Educating those that treat people with a prejudice based on gender, race and religion to recognise that they’re projecting their insecurities. Moving over to the victims of inequality, education to them is a tool to overcome their oppressors and be better. There exist many perfect examples of individuals that were mistreated and education was their only saving grace to a better life. The ability to take an openly unjust act and turn it into an advantage is the power only education can empower you with, cliché as it sounds. It also opens doors to getting justice, as these acts going unheard of and untreated are why they’re so common in society.
This social evil is one that was always astounding. The total has reached a whopping 7.4 million children in the USA alone. The sheer fact that it exists is a direct indication towards a lack of education. Its essence is the physical and mental harm of a child, which further ripples into character flaws. Educations role in eradicating this plague is rather simple but still necessary. While it is common sense to never harm a child, the knowledge of the adverse effects those harmful actions have is where education comes into play. This knowledge could make all the difference for some people. Over onto the victim’s side, educated children can know to distance themselves and seek help from an abusive scenario. The ability to find an exit from harm is a precious choice and only education can help someone with as little resource as a child get through.
Prostitution and Substance abuse
These can be coupled together as in essence, these exist because those affected by the circumstance to indulge/partake in either, are bound by it; it being their circumstance. It is truly sad to know that a troubled sector of society feels pigeon-holed in their choices. Prostitution is simply an individual looking for a means to survive by offering their body rather than their mind. If they had the access to quality education and nurtured their minds, these very same individuals would have access to a whole different set of life choices, which would, in turn, make them better integrated with their society. This statement isn’t generalised, as there is documentation of these very individuals on this topic wishing for better through education.
From all of this, it is clear that educating oneself, if nothing, gives the individual the reality of choice- not an illusion of it. That is where the power lies in education, the ability to choose to alleviate oneself from all of these evils. Education has always been a tool of the mind and where the mind goes, the body follows.