Evil, one may recall, is defectus boni, a deficiency of a good. In a sense, it is something that isn't there rather than something that is. That is why to "take away the sin of the world" can be imagined as a sort of hole-filling operation, a bringing-in and not a taking away. It would be something that fills us up.
Writers know that it is far easier to recognize an error in their work than to recognize that something is missing. That is why pride is easier than humility. But the Natural Law is the recognition that these deficiencies, or at least the most basic of them, can be recognized by any human being, as St. Paul says in Romans 2. This is what makes a recent story out of Spain so interesting.
A 64-year-old man in the city of Jaén called up the police to report a home burglary. He certainly recognized burglary as a defectus boni, since he was now literally deficient on many of his personal goods, mostly fencible electronic equipments. The victim, who coached a youth soccer team, provided the police with a list of missing items. Oh, the moral outrage!
A few days later, the police received an anonymous call from a pay phone, telling them that a package containing some videotapes had been left under a parked car and gave directions of finding it. The tapes showed a man molesting young boys. An accompanying note gave the address of the soccer coach's house and read:
"I've had the misfortune that these tapes have fallen into my hands and I feel obligated to turn them in so that you can do your job and put that (expletive) in prison for life."
A few days later, Spanish National Police arrested the burglarized soccer coach.
The burglar, it seems, also had a conscience, and recognized a defect in a good in the (unreported!) tapes he had taken.
The pedophile recognized the sin of the burglar. The burglar recognized the sin of the pedophile.How much happier both men -- and their victims -- would have been had they in addition recognized their own. Most folks might be inclined to give the burglar a pass and wish him buena suerte, for there is little doubt which of the two transgressions was the worse; yet, this is not likely the first such burglary he has committed, and on victims far less worthy of being victimized.
It's easy, it seems, to recognize an evil provided it is not one to which we are personally devoted. It also seems to indicate that no one is ever so far lost as to lose all grip on the natural law.
For those of us in the writer's trade, this is also an important lesson when it comes to depicting villains and other such characters. Save for their particular blind spot, the particular "hole" into which they have fallen, they can be otherwise quite moral actors, outraged by the sins of others. This can be the lifeline by which they are saved. And even heroes may have their blind spots, their "tragic flaw" by which they are lost.
Also noted here.