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Good and evil in the person and the society

Perhaps the most vexing problem in the world today is the idea of evil. It is so vexing that most of the world, the vaunted Western world anyway, attempts to ignore it. There are no evil people, it says. There are only people trying to get along the best they can with the resources they've got.

Such is certainly true so far as it goes. We have to work with what we've got, intellectually and incidentally, according to our position in life. But how far does that go, really? What can it say of innovation and drive, indeed, of free will? What can it say of the chance that we may recruit allies and make things better? What can it say about what our opposition may do, to thwart our plans?

Not very much. If we are all simply stuck with what we've got, with what we are born with, shall we say, what hope is there of improvement? On the other side of the coin, what prospect exists of doing real harm to the world and its peoples either? If we are born only what we are, how can we progress or regress? Truly said, if there are no evil people, can there be good people? And if we cannot know that we are doing is good, what is the point of doing it?

Yet we know by experience that we, as individuals and societies, both progress and regress, daily and through history, individually and collectively. But by what right can we even call progress progress, or regress regress, without a knowledge that we may be progressing or regressing? And if we are really progressing, really making the world a better place for persons and nations, wouldn't that be called good? Similarly, if we are actually regressing, would that not be called evil?

This becomes dangerously close to calling some people evil, which is really what the world wishes to avoid. Wouldn't it be better if we all saw each other as moral equals doing only what we can with what we've got? Wouldn't it?

No, it would not. For in so doing we would only give mission to those who would do wrong. We would only be sanctifying their will. If there is no good and evil, if there is no right and wrong, then our actions do not matter. If our actions do not matter, then it does not matter what we do. And that, by itself, is evil, because it allows those with power to do with the rest of us whatever they want, despite our protests. It allows the individual as well to do as he sees fit without regard to what effect that might have on those around him. And we cannot protest, if there are no angels and devils, no good and evil, within us. How may we claim our own rights, if the devils among us are as apt to be as right and good as the supposed angels?

If good does not believe that it is good, then evil has won. If good will not call itself good, then evil has won. Still, calling the good good and the evil evil does not necessarily mean that the people involved are good or evil. But it must mean that their causes are one or the other. Which means that we must choose whether we are with the one or the other. We must choose whether we are trying to be good and do good, or trying to be evil and do evil.

So make your choice. But spare us the platitudes which only assert that our choices do not matter. Such platitudes only serve the cause of evil. Do you want to feed or starve that cause?