Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The nature of good and evil

The Nature of Good and Evil

Lets face it, this is a pretty significant part of most peoples faith/belief system and yet when this question was posed to me (and I was lucky enough to have quite a lengthy discussion with my professor about it) I was somewhat surprised about how much I still had to think about my opinion on this and if it all meshed in together well.

Do I believe in Good and Evil?  The answer is simply no.  In my belief system I don't believe in these things.  And I'm not talking here about the whole God/Devil generalized aspect, I'm talking about notions that there is good and evil in the world.  You can imagine the responses I got when I put forth this statement in my class, and I was immediately challenged with the most obvious example of why I had to believe in evil - Hitler.  How could I possibly view his actions as something that wasn't evil.  Simple really, to me the idea of evil is a cop-out.  It is an easy and comfortable way for people to deal with actions that have harmful consequences. If we can't understand it, if it causes pain, then it must be evil.  I just don't get that.  To me actions are just that, they are actions.  They have consequences, and these consequences can result in pain and suffering, but that doesn't make the actions evil.  Besides, who decides that something is evil?  Would Hitler have thought what he did was evil - I don't think so.  If evil is something that truly exists as apposed to our interpretation and explanation of events then how does one explain that dramatic shifts that take place with regards to what is considered evil and what isn't throughout history?

Of course the response to this I received was that if I didn't believe in evil then I couldn't believe in good either.  Totally fine by me, I don't.  I believe in actions and effects.  Why is it we label things as good?  Positive effects can occur but that doesn't make the action itself inherently good, nor the person completing the action.  Now it was suggested that perhaps I really didn't understand these concepts because I'd never had to deal with 'true evil'.  It was even suggested that I was being offensive to those who have suffered because I didn't hold what happened to them as something evil.  That would never be my intention.  If someone disagrees with me - so be it, I'd love to hear your side of the discussion.  I would never demean the  way someone chooses to deal with an event such as rape, murder, mugging etc.  If they label it as evil and that helps them to deal with it than that is great.  I don't feel that way, and yes I have been through events that people would label as evil - I have been through child molestation and rape, emotional abuse etc and I can say with complete honesty that I don't consider the person or the events themselves to be evil.  They were actions, actions that had harmful results, but actions nonetheless.  That's just me, you don't have to agree.

So why this topic today?  I think it is important that we try and understand the things we believe and whether we believe in good and evil plays a huge role in some of the other things we believe in.  Balance, Karma, Fate etc.

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