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Good and Evil

I've just been digesting some information on Secular Humanism, which is a new name (for me) to the concept I believe in. I think. Maybe. I haven't had the chance to study it yet though I have some books on the topic requested at the library.

The bare bones descriptions I've read so far included this statement when answering how the believers think evil enters the world (as through Satan in Christian teachings):
"No concept of “evil," or Satan, or supernatural Karmic action. Reasons for wrongdoing are explored through scientific methods, e.g. through study of sociology, psychology, criminology, etc."

This made me think. It's true, I don't believe in evil. Not a supreme, devilish evil, causing men to do things out of pure meanness and will to be evil. However, I also believe in balance. If there is no evil, does that in turn mean that there is no good? That what we see as good and evil are mere moral standpoints? That people don't do things for no other reason than to be good?

People have their own motivations for everything they do. When a war begins, it is because both parties believe they are in the right. Hitler felt that he was in the right, as did his most trusting adherents. (I assume this, if there is historical evidence to the contrary feel free to point it out.) The people who rushed to the aid of his victims felt they were in the right. And mankind has somehow come to the conclusion that dead people can't be right, so you have to whack a person with a really big stick to make yourself correct.

I don't feel that Hitler was evil. I believe he found a goal that (in his mind) would lead himself and his people to safety, preservation, and good living. Which is what all people want--safety, health, and the promise of those things for their children after they pass away. Somewhere in his plan he decided Germany didn't have room for Jewish people and he made the steps he felt necessary.

Now, we have the side of the debate most everyone reading will be on, that of the Allied Forces, opposition to Hitler. The Allied Forces found that Hitler's ideals would mean that they lost safety, health, and such promises for their children. Something had to be done, and a force of men with really big sticks ran at Hitler so they could remain in the right.

But I cannot, no matter how hard I try, give up the idea of GOOD existing in the world. Evil is easy enough, I don't see a malicious force driving people to be horrible, and neither do I see a supreme being driving people to be good, but I can't stop believing that people, all people, in the right situation, will do good. Will care for one another.

Perhaps I simply haven't been hurt by one of those movie endings where the bad guy walks away from the helpless crowd to save himself, but I don't think there exists a person without good intentions. Perhaps the only difference in that situation is his good intentions only concern himself. And perhaps the only thing skewed is my perception of the meaning of good.

My perceptions of the world--as a soft person, living in comfort in a civilized nation, never needing to worry if there will be food tomorrow, or somewhere safe to sleep--are contaminated by the media. When I experience hardships, they are safely told in the confines of a two hour movie, or a few hundred pages of a novel, and they need to be interesting, moving, and memorable. There is always a hero, and always something to fight against. The only people who are selfish and unkind are the antagonists or those cast in an unfavorable light. Everyone else I see has goodness in them. They will fight for what they think is right and uphold their ideals.

But this is just our moral code. Our perceptions of what makes a person good, and what makes a person bad.

And there I may have hit on my problem. Good and Evil are not balancing forces. Good and Bad are balancing forces, but what word balances Evil. Thank you dictionary.com, the antonym of Evil is Righteous not Good. Righteous means 'acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous' and Virtuous means 'conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright'.

It is VERY important to note that the opposite of being evil is merely conforming to moral and ethical principles. Meaning that to be evil you only need to neglect certain moral and ethical principles. It all comes back to the matter of morals and what we as a society are taught is right, and what is wrong.

And so I believe I have been merely running myself about a bush in all of this. When I say to myself that there is no Evil and thereby there should be no Good, I'm not trying to say that these qualities don't exist, only that they have no divine forces backing them, forcing us to be one way or the other. Also that there are no black and white conclusions as no person is either all the time. A person who seems Evil or Good at one time or another has shown qualities of the opposite. As a child Hitler may have saved a friend from some mortal danger, been an extremely kind hand with animals, or loved his mother very much. While the leaders of the countries who opposed his treatment of the Jewish people might have at one time cheated on their spouse, tortured a pet, or stolen from friends and family.

Balance avoids the extremes. With neither Good nor Evil existing in full, only in moments in each of us, balance can comfortably continue.