We cannot be quite sure who originally said this, as various sources credit it to either Albert Einstein, Edmund Burke, or John Stuart Mill. Regardless of who said it, it has a meaning that has resonance in every corner of the world. It is a criticism of those who passively stand by and allow evil to happen without doing anything about it.
I would argue that part of the meaning of this quote is an exhortation to be observant. While there may only be a handful of people in the world who would kidnap a child to enslave them, there are plenty more people who live in the same neighborhood as an enslaved child, and by taking the time to notice their surroundings, they could become aware of the problem.
Similarly, people who see but disregard human rights abuses, sexual harassment in the workplace, or even the mistreatment of animals are arguably as guilty as those perpetrating these societal wrongs.
In a nutshell, this quote is arguing that the dangers of this world are caused not by those who...
(The entire section contains 3 answers and 652 words.)