Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lesser of Two Evils - Origin and Usage

Re: the legend on the political cartoon below "evil" and " lesser evil", a take-off on the phrase to choose "the lesser of two evils". JuBlu asked about the origin of the phrase.

It appears to have originated in the writings of a German mystic and Augustinian monk, one Thomas a Kempi (numerous spellings of the name), 1380-1471.( http://www.factspider.com/th/thomas-a-kempis.html ) In his book "The Imitation of Christ" he is quoted , "of 2 evils, the less is always to be chosen."( http://batesline.com/archives/002824.html)

The meaning of the phrase is self explanatory, apart from its original religious intent: when faced with two bad choices, choose the one that is least bad. It is most commonly used regarding politics and governmental policies, as in "the lesser of two evils principle"( http://www.answers.com/topic/lesser-of-two-evils-principle ) but has come to be used in any situation that offers bad choices. Additional sources for usage : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_of_two_evils_principle and http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/lesser+of+two+evils

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