Philosophers, dramatists, theologians have grappled with this question for centuries: what makes people go wrong? Interestingly, I asked this question when I was a little kid. I grew up in the South Bronx, inner-city ghetto in New York, and I was surrounded by evil, as all kids are who grew up in an inner city. And I had friends who were really good kids, who lived out the Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde scenario -- Robert Louis Stevenson. That is, they took drugs, got in trouble, went to jail. Some got killed, and some did it without drug assistance.
So when I read Robert Louis Stevenson, that wasn't fiction. The only question is, what was in the juice? And more importantly, that line between good and evil -- which privileged people like to think is fixed and impermeable, with them on the good side, the others on the bad side -- I knew that line was movable, and it was permeable. Good people could be seduced across that line, and under good and some rare circumstances, bad kids could recover with help, with reform, with rehabilitation.
So I want to begin with this wonderful illusion by [Dutch] artist M.C. Escher. If you look at it and focus on the white, what you see is a world full of angels. But let's look more deeply, and as we do, what appears is the demons, the devils in the world. That tells us several things.
One, the world is, was, will always be filled with good and evil, because good and evil is the yin and yang of the human condition. It tells me something else. If you remember, God's favorite angel was Lucifer. Apparently, Lucifer means "the light." It also means "the morning star," in some scripture. And apparently, he disobeyed God, and that's the ultimate disobedience to authority. And when he did, Michael, the archangel, was sent to kick him out of heaven along with the other fallen angels. And so Lucifer descends into hell, becomes Satan, becomes the devil, and the force of evil in the universe begins.