I believe many of us regard the progression of evil in purely linear terms – as a relentless advancing movement forward. Of course, that is the way evil likes to portray and market itself – as an unhindered perpetual march forward, as an unstoppable juggernaut it would be futile to oppose – but even the most cursory examination of evil’s actual progress quickly reveals these assessments and assumptions to be false. True, evil has progressed and is continuing to progress as I write these lines, but its progression has been and remains far from purely linear in nature.
As far as I can tell, evil does not progress forward from one stage to another in a single series of steps for a number of reasons.
Firstly, despite appearances to the contrary, evil is simply not powerful enough to ceaselessly crush everything in its path like a steamroller. It can certainly utilize blitzkrieg tactics once in a while to surprise its opponents and occupy large swathes of territory like an invading army, but the initial gains these kinds of attacks yield are quickly tempered by the logistical reality of having to occupy and subdue the conquered territory. As military history has demonstrated countless times, this is no easy task. Lighting war assaults can stretch supply lines and leave behind determined and tough pockets of resistance that are incredibly difficult to identify and flush out.
Secondly, linear progression goes against the ultimate goal of evil, which is the damnation of souls. If evil’s only goal was to physically extinguish humanity, it very well may have won or lost the war ages ago for one simple reason – people would have clearly understood the threat evil posed as a concrete reality. In other words, people would be more willing to take a definite stand against evil if it were simply a matter of physical survival because physical existence is considered real and defensible (for many, it is the only real thing in the world and the only thing worth defending).
Contrary to popular belief, physical annihilation only interests evil once spiritual annihilation has been achieved, and spiritual annihilation requires more than just conquering territory or ending lives. Physical annihilation can be attained through force; spiritual annihilation cannot. Spiritual annihilation requires freely given consent and superfluous surrender. Thus, the progression of evil is not about superior firepower and straight line tactics – the progression of evil relies of subtle firepower and advance-retreat tactics because this is the only way it can achieve its ultimate goal of having people willingly surrender their souls to damnation. In essence, evil relies on trickery much more than it does on straight-up warfare, and the only way it can truly win is by getting us to consciously trick ourselves.
Problem-reaction-solution and baby step tactics are often-discussed when the progression of evil is assessed. Evil has certainly utilized both of these, and there is considerable overlap in all of the tactics evil employs; however, none seem as effective and prevalent as the “two steps forward, one step back” tactic which, in my opinion, adheres the most closely to evil’s ultimate strategy of damning souls through freely given consent, of freely allowing ourselves to be not only led into temptation and surrendering to it, but convincing ourselves that the evil within the temptation is not as evil as we had initially considered it to be.
How does the “two steps forward, one step back tactic work?”
First step forward
Evil sets an objective that might help it attain its ultimate end goal. It seeks to achieve this goal in step two, but does not reveal this. Instead, it merely floats the idea or subtly introduces the evil through minor actions or events. Reaction to this is gauged.
Second step forward
The evil course of action is implemented, often in a severe or extreme manner. The goal set in the first step forward is achieved here. This is met with opposition only after the damage has already been inflicted.
One step back
Evil is finally resisted and it deliberately takes a step back to feign weakness or seem diplomatic, but it leaves the achieved goal and the consequent damage it has caused intact. Those resisting evil feel as if they have won some sort of victory, as if they have forced evil into some kind of compromise. There exists the illusion of regained territory, but nothing has been gained at all because the territory evil won in step one remains firmly within its control. In other words, it has advanced while its opponents have been pushed back.
Cue the music again
Evil begins planning its next “two step forward, one step back tactic” on the same battlefield to gain further ground if needed; or it opens a new front somewhere else if all of its objectives on a given battlefield have already been achieved.
Be especially wary of the “two steps forward, one step back” tactic whenever you see it unfold in larger contexts – political, social, economic, etc. Any perceived victories in these realms tend to be particularly Pyrrhic. I currently see the tactic unfolding in the arena of mass migration where evil appears to be taking a decisive step back by agreeing to the sanity of border controls, stopping ships, and second-guessing the goals it has achieved through the so-called refugee crisis of 2015. At the same time, mandates for “safe, orderly, and regular migration” at the global level have already been pushed through.
The only thing of I am unsure of is this – can Good utilize the same “two steps forward, one step back” tactic? My intuition says no because it would involve compromise with evil in order to work. Put another way, Good would need you to take both of its steps back, repent, and proceed once more from where it originally started only after repentance.
Does that make sense, or am I missing something?
To sum it up, demons wage war through dancing; it is imperative that we adamantly decline any demon’s offer to join it for a three-step, regardless of how courteously or persuasively the invitation to dance is extended to us.