Fandango’s Provocative Question #115 -Necessary Evil?

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question.

This week’s provocative question is about evil. The word evil is defined as something profoundly immoral and wicked. Recently I heard someone use the phrase, “a necessary evil.” When I Googled that phrase, I saw that it refers to an evil that someone believes must be done or accepted because it is necessary to achieve a better outcome — especially because possible alternative courses of action or inaction are expected to be worse.

So the question is simply this:

Is there really such a thing as a necessary evil, or is it just a way for us to rationalize or justify doing something bad?


What is necessary? And evil?

I can think of a few examples where you can call it a necessary evil;


I think politicians can be really categorized as a necessary evil! Most decent people shy away from politics. And yet someone has to do this job. So it’s a necessary evil, when we tolerate these corrupt ( not all but most) people!

Certain medical procedures;

Preventive procedures, curative surgeries, stomach banding, and bypass surgery, they are are painful and troublesome surgeries but prevent even more dire conditions.

Disciplining, especially children;

It’s something all parents have to do. Tantrum-throwing toddlers are left to cry because it will teach them the importance of self-control. Grounding teenagers for not following a curfew or other minor violations is another example. It hurts the parents as much as the children, but as they say, it’s a necessary evil.


Staying in touch with friends or family far from us through social media has become the necessity of these times. But going on Facebook or Instagram can be frustrating and sometimes downright depressing.


It’s the hot topic of the day. We get vaccinated against contagious diseases so that we don’t fall ill but there are side effects of these vaccines that we have to tolerate because we want to prevent getting sick.




49 thoughts on “Fandango’s Provocative Question #115 -Necessary Evil?

  1. It’s funny, because with the covid vaccines, in particular, I’m quite happy to stack all the unknowns (and I think there are many), up against the plus of once again having a functioning society.
    In FPQ the other week, I couldn’t help but notice that a couple of readers, who happened to be American, went as far as “I’m not getting a C19 vaccine because it’s untested” Kind of noticeable that the “society” element was missing. Kinda troubled me, but I accept it’s just me. Different cultures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. America became even more deeply divided over the term of the previous president. Things like wearing a mask and getting vaccinated became politicized.
      It seemed almost cult-like to me. Anyone who didn’t/doesn’t follow the party line is an “enemy”. They talked a LOT about personal freedom. I guess they thought they were ALL little islands unto themselves.

      There is no “American” society right now. It’s still very much “US vs Them”

      That’s my 2 cents worth anyway… as an American🤷🏼‍♀️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The impression I had was that their instincts had been honed more over a lifetime, not just since 2016. But I quite often get that feeling (the importance of society vis-a-vis the individual) when speaking to Americans (not just these two) so I assume that is just a cultural difference between the US and either Europe or the RoW.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I can’t understand how educated people can have that sort of thinking. I was reading on a blog yesterday that some people in Canada think covid is a conspiracy to keep people frightened!!! I mean we all can see people getting sick and dying from it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just in terms of the covid vaccine, I would go along with their fears. Vaccines take years to perfect, and this one was not even a twinkle in anybody’s eye one year ado. Plus, the approval process was rushed. Not least, none of us knows long-term side effects because these vaccines have only been around a few months
        I’m quite happy to accept that there *are* risks associated with the vaccine, it’s just that for me, the benefit to society outweighs them. They seem not to see any societal benefits.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s logic is sound. Most antiviral and other vaccines for bacterial diseases are based on the same principles. Let’s hope the risks are acceptable in the long range as well.

          Liked by 1 person

    3. It’s not just you, not by any means. We seem to have lost touch with the concept of “doing the right thing” entirely because it IS the right thing. There’s nothing political about medical procedures. They are choices that may be hard to make, but there’s not evil in decided to have a mammogram rather than a lumpectomy.

      This whole “I’m the only one who matters” think trouble MANY of us.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. l don’t think any of those — with the exception of politicians are not necessary or always evil, ARE evil. They are difficult choices for sure, but medical procedures aren’t evil. They may be unpleasant and hard to decide, but they aren’t evil. Disciplining children, unless you are abusing them, isn’t evil. It’s actually necessary — assuming you want them to grow up civilized and not little spoiled monsters. Social media isn’t evil, though maybe the people who run it might be.

    Vaccination isn’t evil. Many would describe it as a saving grace. You may not like the idea and you may decide against it, but it’s a choice you make. I may disagree with your choice, but your choice isn’t evil — unless by your choice you are infecting me or mine.

    War is probably what could be described — by some — as a necessary evil, especially since no matter how you slice and dice it, war, is bad for people and other living creatures. It may be unavoidable, but it’s always bad. By definition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your in-depth analysis is great Marilyn, and I agree that while disciplining or medical procedures are unpleasant and difficult, they aren’t evil. And yes, war is evil whichever side you’re on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts


  3. Killing is often characterized as a necessary evil, whether dropping an atomic bomb on Nagasaki a mere three days after the one on Hiroshima or killing animals, even insects. Some killing could legitimately be labelled a necessary evil but way too often the glib phrase qualifies as a convenient “way for us to rationalize or justify doing something bad.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right Geoff. Killing is often described as a necessary evil, specially if we think of “them” as enemies. But it’s only a convenient excuse.


  4. Except for politicians, I am not sure those other things you mentioned are “evil.” Maybe uncomfortable or even painful, but “evil”? But as to politicians, quite a few, especially Republicans, seem to be evil. But are they even necessary? Hmm.

    Liked by 1 person

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