Is there any evil that is necessary, that is somehow justified? The problem is in the definition of evil. Evil is a complex concept – debated by the intelligencia. Let’s reduce the idea to something more simple, focusing on one element. It is not evil to be clear about consequences. Actually – it would be a greater disservice to not be clear. Sabre rattling is a term used to denote and affirm the presence of power, and the willingness to use it.
Your son is a toddler. You are compelled to rattle your parental sabre. To not inform him of consequences, to wait lurking in the shadows for him to commit a sin, then to pounce on the unaware child with vengeance – well, child abuse and no less. The idea is fundamental to our thinking process. We look at a situation, an opportunity, and we measure the cost and the benefit of action. Then we make our life choice. We accept the consequences. Seems simple enough.
Your son understands who the authority figure is – if he does not – he will soon enough. A well placed whack is a statement of authority – this has been the case since the last Ice Age. This is a simple concept until the receiver of the whack does not accept the authority of the whacker. The receiver does not accept that the consequences are a necessary and natural result of their behavior.
There are folks who are enamored with their own authority. Some parents are like this; their children struggle with authority figures all their lives – and they often lose. Rebellious children are ‘difficult’ or ‘special’ or ‘at-risk.’ The child is seen as being somehow flawed, defiant, disrespectful. A little dose of well placed violence should straighten them out.
Assistant Managers, middle management – whooee! The biggest pain in the waazoo ever invented by capitalism. They swagger around the store or office, strutting like a rooster at a cock fight. They want a fight. They want to draw blood. They want an employee to goof up so they can demonstrate their importance to the organization.
When people become enamored with their authority – they sometimes misunderstand the boundaries of their authority. Authority is only side of the face. The other side is called responsibility. These are complimentary ideas. Authority without responsibility runs awry. Responsibility without authority cannot work. If you are responsible for teaching your child then you must have the authority to judge appropriate action. – that judgment is the essence of responsibility.
The goofy, irresponsible use of authority usually weeds out the the middle manager, they do some damage along the way but they seldom raise to the ranks of real power. That process recently failed in our country. The authoritarian wackos got the promotion.