I went to see the movie An Act of Valor again. I had been with friends a week ago and was blown away. Well, if you’ve seen the movie or heard what it’s about “blown away” might have some connotations I don’t mean.
It’s a fictional movie starring real Navy SEALs. The producers decided to use the SEALs themselves because there was no way that actors and stuntmen could do what the SEALs already knew how to do. Their first mission in the movie is to rescue an American CIA agent who has been captured and is being interrogated by members of a criminal smuggling outfit.
Although there may be some lurkers here for whom this is not true, for most of us in this community who have ever felt that we were evil, the criminal torturer is nothing like us. We may have bits of evil in us, yes. And we may go to great lengths to identify those aspects as evil, which they are. In my family of origin, evil was always unacceptable. As a social, moral good – yes, it is not acceptable – and so it was not acceptable in us. We denied it, ignored it. And yet, it is here, it exists. So not accepting it is not realistic. It exists in me, in my mother, in my sister, in my father.
Years ago, before I got to my current therapist who has modeled how to accept all parts of me, I spent a lot of time trying both to understand and to put distance between myself and my evil aspects. I tried to understand evil intellectually by thinking about it and reading books and articles about theodicy, the theological approaches to understanding evil.
There’s a difference between evil urges and evil acts. Evil urges can lead to evil acts but they don’t have to. Evil urges do not make a whole PERSON evil.
An Act of Valor is about confronting and containing the evil in others during War on Terror so that it did not destroy the USA. The warriors in the movie don’t come across as evil to me. They come across as warriors. They know evil, though. They stare it in the face. They risk being killed by it, with the belief – born of training and the extensive technical support which the U.S. military provides them - that if they fall others will step up and complete the mission.
It appears to me to be a very strange lifestyle. But it’s a lucky thing for those of us who don’t (and can’t) choose it that some others do.
Do they have evil urges sometimes? And even evil acts sometimes? Yes, they kill people they believe to be enemies without giving them a chance sometimes. But in the movie you see lots of other aspects to their character and I don’t think it’s realistic to call them evil people.