“Yes, evil often seems to surpass good. But then, in spite of us, and without our permission, there comes at last an end to the bitter frosts. One morning the wind turns, and there is a thaw. And so I must still have hope.” -Vincent van Gogh

Thomas Sadoski
6 min readApr 28, 2024


The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released its 2023 report on global military spending and to no one’s surprise — though to our collective disgrace — the world’s investment in human suffering and the tools of misery rose 6.8% (when adjusted for inflation), to highest level ever recorded.

When faced with unprecedented and increasing suffering as the direct result of climate change, a global economy that continues to twist the golden bootheel of the haves into the parched throat of the have-nots, a lurch towards the theocratic authoritarian right with all of its incorporated assaults on women’s rights — to say nothing of other marginalized and minority communities, and a bizarre and self-defeating cannonade on free thought and expression from both the left and the right, the best efforts of elected government officials worldwide is to invest more heavily in the perpetration of war.

“In 2023 global military spending hit $2.443 trillion…with NATO member states accounting for 55% of world spending.” -SIPRI Fact Sheet, April 2024

I’ve written before about the effects of starvation on the body, the sheer brutality of watching children suffer in conflict zones, the unconscionable misappropriation of resources away from aid and development, the suffering of people overlooked and disregarded even as their suffering reaches catastrophe. I’ve wondered aloud about and sought assistance to help draw the line between trade unions’ retirement account investments and war profits as a way of helping people understand that in a free society tremendous responsibility is the essential other side of the bargain. I’ve criticized and disparaged members of my own industry who capriciously flirt with activism but only when the cause is voguish and not at all reliant on them actually having to learn, say or do anything difficult. But I’ve done it all from a place within myself that truly believes in the inherent decency of people.

I knew it couldn’t possibly be naivety that drove this faith, in my life I had too often seen the proof otherwise. I had witnessed this beauty first hand, in some of the most brutal circumstances. I am reminded of a 9 year old boy I met in the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. After helping a stranger outside of the camp he was gifted the equivalent of a single dollar. He rushed back to the camp and along the way purchased food, not for himself, but for his widowed mother and little sisters — one of whom had been horribly burned in an airstrike the year before in Syria. I watched as this starving 9 year old boy sat in their home and refused food until his entire family had gotten their fill. I have innumerable similar stories from both heartrending places and the idyll.

But with every overlooked atrocity, every single maddening day watching the vital get subsumed by the asinine, the stupid get confused with the profound and propaganda awarded as news, that part of me frays.

We are living through the age of efficient genocide. More advanced killing systems, developed and brought online by some of the brightest and most highly educated minds we have ever produced, are constantly being deployed. Although no evidence exists for the last century being more dedicatedly genocidal than any other, we can say it has been by orders of magnitude more effective. Bosnia, Kosovo, the Croats, the Serbs, Cambodia, the Yazidis, Rwanada, Sudan (twice), Somalia, the Sabra and Shatila massacres, the Rohingya (twice), the Uyghur people in China, the Armenians, Libya, the Holodomor, Biafra, the Kurds, East Timor, Uganda, the Parsley Massacre, Guatemala, the Holocaust: all and more have occurred since 1920. Our fidelity to this brutality and to the desiccation of our moral souls is unrivaled. Financials aside, our investment in the tools of atrocity (apathy, solipsism, anger, willful ignorance) is at the least ascendant and likely as pronounced as at any point in human history. Economically, our very considered decision to invest overwhelmingly in the destruction of life on an industrial scale is unprecedented. And it is an informed choice.

In July of 2021, U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley estimated that it would cost around $40 billion every year to bring an end to world hunger by 2030. A mere $360 billion over the course of a decade to end global hunger. Regularly robust and detailed studies are released setting out goals for the elimination of various diseases and maladies. They are all chronically underfunded and largely forgotten. The people ready to do that incredible work too often flame out in frustration and heartbreak. The tasks go unfulfilled and curable human suffering persists for want of not only financial but social investment. Instead, our “developed” countries calm the lake for Narcissus, sit on the banks and watch him go. It is impossible to quantify the losses of missed opportunities and overlooked investment, but I offer this brief thought experiment:

Take a moment to imagine what Jimmy Carter could have accomplished with Elon Musk’s money (and with the added bonus of none of the nazi coddling and microphallus complex!). Reflect on what our world would look like now had Dolores Huerta carried as much cultural influence as even one Kardashian.

Are we hellbent for comprehensive suicide? A metastasizing mistake in the evolutionary process? Some days we undeniably are. We, human beings, will be the end of organized human life. It won’t be a virus or a meteor. We will self-immolate en masse long before the universe bails us out. Sadly, the wheels of destruction were set in motion a couple of generations ago and we are beyond redemption in that regard. But must we suffer a spiritual and a moral extinction as well?

I don’t know. We have everything we need to change course. We are more capable than we know, as individuals and as a society. Our history is brimming with extraordinary stories of sacrifice and courage and the daily small and quiet acts of decency that go unknown except in the heart of the recipient. And yet we trudge to Tartarus without so much as a collective sigh, lead there by the greedy, the evangelist, the cruel, stupid and insane. We are more willing to watch innocent children destroyed in unthinkable ways than to lay down our practiced indifference and put the wicked in power to the sword or at least in the clink. If this is not inherent devilry, what is?

I suppose that the lesson is in the fact that I, who have railed so loudly about tribalism and the dangers of groupthink, have fallen for the easy false dichotomy: that there is good and evil, saint and sinner. It seems unarguable that we are inherently desperate to find that surety. It allows us such safety. We can cast judgment from afar, execute — be it the soul or the body, or both — without getting our hands dirty or besmirching our imagined righteousness.

And to be clear, there is pure evil and radiant good. One of the warping realities of war is that you can be standing beside both simultaneously. But they are only themselves, and no more. They are not “us”. Just as every misguided politician who builds upon a blood-bathed war economy in the name of safety and justice carries alone that guilt to their final judgment. Just as every apologist and lobbyist and fork-tongued zealot is alone in their choice to excuse the death of innocents. And although our own ignorance, cowardice or apathy makes us complicit in crimes and wickedness, it does not necessarily define us. Unless, that is, we — having been given the perspective and knowledge of our accidental collusion — stay idle. Then our names too are struck from the book of grace and counted among the most wretched; those found beneath the words “These beasts are they that knew. And did nothing.”



Thomas Sadoski

INARA—board of directors; Fortify Rights— advisory council; Refugees International— board member emeritus. Actor. Human Rights Activist.