What is ‘good and evil’?
It’s a question that has influenced so many different religions, philosophical view points, political causes, and almost every aspect of human life. It is the question we use to try and define how people treat one another, how power should be viewed, how once society might view another society. And, unfortunately, it is the question that has caused so much conflict in the history of humankind.
Growing up as a catholic, I have certainly learned concepts of morality, the Seven Deadly Sins, the ideas of mortal and venial sins, and others. Some of these I agree with and some of these I truly struggle accepting – for example, in the 8th grade I was shocked to learn that homosexuality was considered a sin, because I assumed that no one had the ability to control who they loved. How could it be a sin or evil?
I wouldn’t say this was the first, and certainly not the last time, I would have an internal debate about what is and what is not evil. It’s a question that comes up in my mind from time to time and it tends to focus around those things that are not blatant – to most people, that is. I think there are some things that are quite obvious – murder, sexual abuse of people (especially children), stealing, imposing overpowering control over others, etc. But there are things I have question as to why or how they could be considered evil.
Overwhelmingly, the things that have caused me the most conflict with morality is sexuality. I understand why a lot of cultures have looked down upon sexual relationships outside of marriage, but sometimes I think there is so much focus on something like this we lose sight of other things that are truly evil. I have always felt that sex is one of pour primal instincts, and because of that, there needs to be a certain level of control over it. The other primal instinct being survival (i.e. the use of violence) doesn’t give us permission to around killing other people, or using physical violence to exert control over other people. In similar fashion, I think sex has similar connotations to it – we can’t go around humping anything and everything we set our eyes on without understanding the consequences of those actions.
But at the same time, I can’t ignore the idea that a love that is shared between two people is somehow tarnished if there isn’t a marriage in place. And taking it another step further, I grasp that most religious faiths see that a sexual relationship between a man and a woman will, hopefully, yield a new life. That concept isn’t lost on me, but at the same time, I can’t ignore that there are people that children are not in their future. I can’t help but see that there are men out there that fall in love with men, women that fall in love with women, and there have been examples of people that love more than one person. How is it, that I can deny that these things exist? I can’t deny, nor ignore anything like this.
I think about relationships, in general, because I can’t help but think that it’s the interactions we have with one another that create the ideas behind good and evil. Sometimes, I think about the conflict people have and I think about the problems created among the differences between people – economic differences, racial differences, religious differences, gender differences, etc. How is it we cannot appreciate differences and somehow want us all to be the same? How is it we want to eradicate differences to the point that people are indescribably from one another? Wouldn’t that be boring? I want to live in a world with a clear understanding of what is right and what is wrong, but I feel human beings have a way of distorting truth and creating something to use for their own, individual, agendas. Would this mean I think there is an inherent problem with human beings? Are we innately flawed?
I sometimes contemplate the way people speak to/with one another. I question what intentions some people have. I observe the discourse people have – especially when it comes to politics – one side always attempting to vilify another. Have we lost our ability to appreciate differences of opinion that we need to describe someone as ‘evil’, if they do not see something the same way? This seems to be a tactic people use whenever differences might occur – some how we lose any sense of charitableness when it comes to our differences – i.e. refusing to be nice or decent, because someone is different – racially, sexually, politically, religiously, etc.
Sometimes, I think about good and evil and I wonder if we, as a species, are devolving…