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OF GOOD AND EVIL
#1
OF GOOD AND EVIL
 
I am posting this to run alongside Kryas post of ‘How to deal with evil’.
Krya, there is much wisdom in your words, and certainly we need evil just as we need goodness. Without the night we couldn't appreciate the day, without sadness we couldn't appreciate happiness, and so it is with evil. We need evil to enable us to appreciate the good in the world.
 
What is good? What is evil? Are there clearly defined lines, or are the edges blurred, and does it depend on concept or point of view.
In some cases it depends where one is standing. For example in 1945 America dropped two nuclear bombs on the cities on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing directly possibly a quarter of a million people, and maybe a similar number in future generations.
To the Americans this action was good, it ended the war in the Pacific and brought finally an end to the Second World War, saving tens of thousands of lives.
To the inhabitants of Japan however it was viewed as a totally evil act, the inhabitants of the two cities were civilians, and many had no argument with the Allies and didn’t want war anyway.
The same can be said about the inhabitants of the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was looked upon as being a good, benevolent being, but not as far as the inhabitants of these cities were concerned!
 
We have looked in other threads and posts at religious teaching and dogma, but what do they say about good and evil?
All religions tend to personalise these two opposites and give them names. In Christian doctrine they become God and the Devil, according to religious teaching a constant battle is being fought as we are pulled backwards and forwards between these two beings.
According to George Bernard Shaw, A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time’’. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘‘The one I feed the most.”
 
We have looked at the concept of God and spirituality, and as everything in creation came into being in balance and harmony, it is unreasonable to assume anything can be totally good or totally evil as this would be without balance.
We are supposedly created in Gods image, therefore we have the potential for both good and evil so why should we suppose that a God should be different. It could be said that good and evil are opposite sides of the same coin.
 
Jesus was said to be totally good, but he cursed the olive tree which had no fruit on it, and he whipped the traders in the temple yard in Jerusalem. If the tree could talk would it consider the action to be good?
 
We meet and hear of many ‘good’ people, who work thanklessly and tirelessly for the good of others without considering themselves, people like Mother Teresa for instance. Are they good? Or is it their spirituality and divinity breaking out and showing itself.
 
We hear of people whom we could describe as the personification of evil, child killers, paedophiles, murderers etc. do they have any redeeming characteristics, or are they pure evil in the strictest sense, and are devoid of spirituality and inner divinity, or are these things just buried so deep that they are inaccessible? And if it is the latter why is it so?
Jesus said ‘God desireth not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live’.  This would indicate that we all have not just the potential for both good and evil, but that we have the potential to change.
 
Now who decides what is good and what isn’t, we started with ten simple rules, Moses’ rules, or the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. This was a simple moral code, these rules have been changed and modified somewhat over the years, but they are still valid today, just as the Witches Rede, ‘If it harms none, so mote it be’ basically if your actions do not impact on others to their detriment it cannot be evil. It may not always be totally good, but it isn’t evil.
Christianity personified evil and called it Satan. Satan is an Arabic word meaning the opposer, so really according to that reasoning anything that opposes your will, or anyone who disagrees with your thinking must be evil. I don't think so!
 
Why is it that some people have a greater capacity for forgiving than others, while some think only of retribution and revenge? It could be said that there are many questions in this text, but it is not designed to answer the questions, but maybe to question the questions. Good and evil are strange concepts, if we look to the animal kingdom neither appear to exist, we can look at the apparent cruelty in nature, the way a stoat will kill a rabbit, or a wolf on a young gazelle, but this is not cruelty for the sake of cruelty, or killing for sheer pleasure, it is survival. These animals have to hunt and kill to live and feed their young. It seems that only man is capable of sadism and deriving pleasure from anothers pain. It is only man that is capable of the extremes of great goodness and great evils.
Why is it so, what makes us so different?
 
We try to teach our children the difference between good and evil, we try to bring them up and encourage them to do the right thing, but sometimes this teaching is not enough, people who benefited from the best upbringing and education are often the worst, and people who had terrible childhoods, often abused and seemingly unloved turn out to be the most magnanimous in every sense of the word.
Sociologists and psychologists will look to the past, to acquaintances, family, friends, geographical location, education and social standing for the moulding of a persons personality and concepts of good and evil. Does this mean that the concepts good and evil, and to some extent conscience are learned and taught just as maths and history, or are we born with the knowledge? Certainly as we grow up the ‘naughty children’ seem to have more fun than the ‘good’ children, when I was a teenager I ran with some pretty unsavoury characters, some died violently and some spent most of their later lives in gaol, some, however, like me turned away from the excitement, to live better lives, bringing up families and living and working within a local community. Some went on to be businessmen, professional people, and one even became a judge!
What made us different?
 
Terry Pratchet said ‘‘People couldn't become truly holy, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitely wicked.”
Maybe this is so, we have to experience the one to appreciate the other, but what makes one person choose one way and another the opposite.
 
Albert Einstein said “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.’’
If we take on board the thoughts of Einstein, and go back to the concept of God and divinity, if divinity is within us then the person who embraces evil is either devoid of this divinity or has yet to discover their divine nature. Is the block to this discovery conscious, or is it a lacking of some knowledge? It is obviously not a religious issue, as people who embrace a religion are just as likely to act with goodness or evil as those who have no religious beliefs, or are even atheist. All the world wars were started by Christians, genocide in Europe was perpetrated by Christians, so following a religion doesn’t make a person good, and not following one doesn’t make a person bad.
So where does this concept of good and evil come from, some say it is because of the fall of man, once again a religious view, and one which I don’t hold, but what if evil were necessary, what if evil were actually a necessary tool to enable us to do good. Just as we need the darkness to appreciate the light, and the winter cold to appreciate the summer warmth, maybe we need evil so we can develop goodness to overcome it, so we can appreciate the good when we encounter it, so we can really exercise the free will we have, maybe it is the evil in the world that saves us from being slaves, not the goodness. Is it an accident that in the English language evil is live spelt backwards?
 
I am not suggesting that we should all embrace the concept of evil as a way of life and turn our backs on goodness, I am merely throwing another question into the pot, and saying that without the evil in the world what would we have to fight against, how would we grow, and how would we develop. Look at the animals brought up in captivity, they have everything given them, food, water, bedding, no danger, no evil, when these animals are turned out into their natural habitat do they survive? No, they have no concept of danger, evil, they succumb to predators or starvation. Maybe, just maybe it is the evil which ensures our survival and growth, both physically and spiritually.
 
Does this answer the question? Maybe not, does it make you think? I hope so!
 
Angels and Demons are a subject for another day.
[-] The following 2 users Like johngefnir's post:
  • Gerhard Botha, Skytiger
#2
As you say  ——what if evil were necessary, what if evil were actually a necessary tool to enable us to do good. Just as we need the darkness to appreciate the light, and the winter cold to appreciate the summer warmth, maybe we need evil so we can develop goodness to overcome it, so we can appreciate the good when we encounter it, so we can really exercise the free will we have, maybe it is the evil in the world that saves us from being slaves, not the goodness. 


Skytiger - I totally agree that we need both evil and good in order to truly grow. Perhaps when we experience both, we have a better understanding of our self and the world around us.
Each of us are where we need to be to learn what we need to learn - IMO.
[-] The following 2 users Like Skytiger's post:
  • Gerhard Botha, johngefnir
#3
(09-30-2018, 09:27 PM)johngefnir Wrote: OF GOOD AND EVIL
 
I am posting this to run alongside Kryas post of ‘How to deal with evil’.
Krya, there is much wisdom in your words, and certainly we need evil just as we need goodness. Without the night we couldn't appreciate the day, without sadness we couldn't appreciate happiness, and so it is with evil. We need evil to enable us to appreciate the good in the world.
 
What is good? What is evil? Are there clearly defined lines, or are the edges blurred, and does it depend on concept or point of view.
In some cases it depends where one is standing. For example in 1945 America dropped two nuclear bombs on the cities on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing directly possibly a quarter of a million people, and maybe a similar number in future generations.
To the Americans this action was good, it ended the war in the Pacific and brought finally an end to the Second World War, saving tens of thousands of lives.
To the inhabitants of Japan however it was viewed as a totally evil act, the inhabitants of the two cities were civilians, and many had no argument with the Allies and didn’t want war anyway.
The same can be said about the inhabitants of the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was looked upon as being a good, benevolent being, but not as far as the inhabitants of these cities were concerned!
 
We have looked in other threads and posts at religious teaching and dogma, but what do they say about good and evil?
All religions tend to personalise these two opposites and give them names. In Christian doctrine they become God and the Devil, according to religious teaching a constant battle is being fought as we are pulled backwards and forwards between these two beings.
According to George Bernard Shaw, A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time’’. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘‘The one I feed the most.”
 
We have looked at the concept of God and spirituality, and as everything in creation came into being in balance and harmony, it is unreasonable to assume anything can be totally good or totally evil as this would be without balance.
We are supposedly created in Gods image, therefore we have the potential for both good and evil so why should we suppose that a God should be different. It could be said that good and evil are opposite sides of the same coin.
 
Jesus was said to be totally good, but he cursed the olive tree which had no fruit on it, and he whipped the traders in the temple yard in Jerusalem. If the tree could talk would it consider the action to be good?
 
We meet and hear of many ‘good’ people, who work thanklessly and tirelessly for the good of others without considering themselves, people like Mother Teresa for instance. Are they good? Or is it their spirituality and divinity breaking out and showing itself.
 
We hear of people whom we could describe as the personification of evil, child killers, paedophiles, murderers etc. do they have any redeeming characteristics, or are they pure evil in the strictest sense, and are devoid of spirituality and inner divinity, or are these things just buried so deep that they are inaccessible? And if it is the latter why is it so?
Jesus said ‘God desireth not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live’.  This would indicate that we all have not just the potential for both good and evil, but that we have the potential to change.
 
Now who decides what is good and what isn’t, we started with ten simple rules, Moses’ rules, or the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. This was a simple moral code, these rules have been changed and modified somewhat over the years, but they are still valid today, just as the Witches Rede, ‘If it harms none, so mote it be’ basically if your actions do not impact on others to their detriment it cannot be evil. It may not always be totally good, but it isn’t evil.
Christianity personified evil and called it Satan. Satan is an Arabic word meaning the opposer, so really according to that reasoning anything that opposes your will, or anyone who disagrees with your thinking must be evil. I don't think so!
 
Why is it that some people have a greater capacity for forgiving than others, while some think only of retribution and revenge? It could be said that there are many questions in this text, but it is not designed to answer the questions, but maybe to question the questions. Good and evil are strange concepts, if we look to the animal kingdom neither appear to exist, we can look at the apparent cruelty in nature, the way a stoat will kill a rabbit, or a wolf on a young gazelle, but this is not cruelty for the sake of cruelty, or killing for sheer pleasure, it is survival. These animals have to hunt and kill to live and feed their young. It seems that only man is capable of sadism and deriving pleasure from anothers pain. It is only man that is capable of the extremes of great goodness and great evils.
Why is it so, what makes us so different?
 
We try to teach our children the difference between good and evil, we try to bring them up and encourage them to do the right thing, but sometimes this teaching is not enough, people who benefited from the best upbringing and education are often the worst, and people who had terrible childhoods, often abused and seemingly unloved turn out to be the most magnanimous in every sense of the word.
Sociologists and psychologists will look to the past, to acquaintances, family, friends, geographical location, education and social standing for the moulding of a persons personality and concepts of good and evil. Does this mean that the concepts good and evil, and to some extent conscience are learned and taught just as maths and history, or are we born with the knowledge? Certainly as we grow up the ‘naughty children’ seem to have more fun than the ‘good’ children, when I was a teenager I ran with some pretty unsavoury characters, some died violently and some spent most of their later lives in gaol, some, however, like me turned away from the excitement, to live better lives, bringing up families and living and working within a local community. Some went on to be businessmen, professional people, and one even became a judge!
What made us different?
 
Terry Pratchet said ‘‘People couldn't become truly holy, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitely wicked.”
Maybe this is so, we have to experience the one to appreciate the other, but what makes one person choose one way and another the opposite.
 
Albert Einstein said “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.’’
If we take on board the thoughts of Einstein, and go back to the concept of God and divinity, if divinity is within us then the person who embraces evil is either devoid of this divinity or has yet to discover their divine nature. Is the block to this discovery conscious, or is it a lacking of some knowledge? It is obviously not a religious issue, as people who embrace a religion are just as likely to act with goodness or evil as those who have no religious beliefs, or are even atheist. All the world wars were started by Christians, genocide in Europe was perpetrated by Christians, so following a religion doesn’t make a person good, and not following one doesn’t make a person bad.
So where does this concept of good and evil come from, some say it is because of the fall of man, once again a religious view, and one which I don’t hold, but what if evil were necessary, what if evil were actually a necessary tool to enable us to do good. Just as we need the darkness to appreciate the light, and the winter cold to appreciate the summer warmth, maybe we need evil so we can develop goodness to overcome it, so we can appreciate the good when we encounter it, so we can really exercise the free will we have, maybe it is the evil in the world that saves us from being slaves, not the goodness. Is it an accident that in the English language evil is live spelt backwards?
 
I am not suggesting that we should all embrace the concept of evil as a way of life and turn our backs on goodness, I am merely throwing another question into the pot, and saying that without the evil in the world what would we have to fight against, how would we grow, and how would we develop. Look at the animals brought up in captivity, they have everything given them, food, water, bedding, no danger, no evil, when these animals are turned out into their natural habitat do they survive? No, they have no concept of danger, evil, they succumb to predators or starvation. Maybe, just maybe it is the evil which ensures our survival and growth, both physically and spiritually.
 
Does this answer the question? Maybe not, does it make you think? I hope so!
 
Angels and Demons are a subject for another day.
thank you, this was lovely
Light, Life and Love
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