Opinion | Good vs. Evil

Opinion | Good vs. Evil

Good vs. Evil

©2021 by Vernon Miles Kerr and VernonMilesKerr.com


Are Good and Evil relative?  Liberal scholars would have you think so.  So much “liberal” thinking down through the ages has amounted to persons who have been accorded some level of scholarly authority justifying their own moral shortcomings by saying in effect, “My morality isn’t necessarily your morality.  You can’t judge me unless you have knowledge of my entire life story, and the full context of my existence.”  

Of course, before this enlightened age, we had various religious traditions where a supreme being simplifies the question by laying down some specific laws of behavior.  In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, it’s the Ten Commandments.  Evil is defined as the violation of any of those “do-s and don’ts” — that is, aside from demonic interference — which purportedly can inject evil thoughts and evil motivation into an otherwise law-abiding believer. One can’t help thinking of comedian Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine’s exculpatory: “The Devil made me do it!”

Evil spirts have been a dominant theme in Oriental (Eastern) thought as well. The curiously curled eaves of buildings constructed in the Chinese architectural tradition were believed (and surprisingly still are believed by some Chinese) to send in-coming Evil back skyward.

Concepts of Evil being free-floating and apt to infect an otherwise good person without warning must be very ancient — Paleolithic, actually.  Our ancestors had this in common with us: we cannot, just as they could not, tolerate unanswered questions.  Mysteries, must be explained — by hypothesis, if necessary.  The problem has been that hypotheses have nearly always become religious doctrines, the violation of which often incur very stiff penalties, including death.

We moderns are aware that no human being is born physically, or mentally, perfect in every respect.  We all have one or more defects in both or either of those categories.

Being modern, most of us understand that those defects are health issues, not moral issues. We (supposedly) no longer shun those who are deformed or mentally deficient, but devise ways of treating both — medically. What was once believed to be caused by evil spirits is now accepted as the result of treatable, genetic anomalies. There is no absolute “Good” and no absolute “Evil,” but there is (at least conceptually) absolute health and absolute illness. They cannot coexist.

But what about crime?  Can the criminal behavior of any individual be attributed to mere genetic defects?  Few crimes are committed in a vacuum. Crime is preponderantly a social activity — a social anomaly.  And, insofar as the human is a social creature, criminal behavior cannot be judged completely out of that context. With crime (or any selfish, deceptive behavior)  there’s as much nurture in play as there is nature.

But crime is still a health issue.  Just as there can be definable individual health, there also can be definable societal health. A society is unhealthy when one sees a trickle-down effect that inevitably inures to the individual’s ill-health. 

Such is the case with the overall intransigent attitude of our current society’s leaders to deal with climate change. How can anyone argue that humans are fouling their own nest, and dangerously so. The solution is ultimately simple: if it hurts when you hit your thumb with a hammer, don’t hold the nail that way. So, why would society’s leaders drag their feet in creating measures to curtail environmentally-damaging behavior? As James Carville once said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” 

Not that the reader is stupid, but aren’t we all stupid, for accepting an obviously pathological world economic paradigm where the leaders’ personal wealth takes precedence over a mutual battle for survival? 

We as individuals can’t do anything against something so all-encompassing as our present un-healthy world economic system, but we could, collectively, through government. Especially the government of a country as huge as the United States. Right now, however, our government is not responsive to the people’s will.  It has been hijacked by what is said to be 1% of the population by means of two legal fictions that say, in effect: “Corporations are persons with all the rights of individuals.” and, “Money contributed to political campaigns is a form of free speech and can therefore not be controlled by government.” Since these two ridiculous concepts were promulgated by Supreme Court opinions, they can only be abrogated, or killed, by Constitutional Amendment. There are indeed measures languishing in both houses of Congress right now, to do that. Why the delay? Could it be that all of that “free speech,” flowing to the campaign coffers of our representatives, is a drug too hard to kick?  It’s a Catch-22. Even the means to remedy the evil is negatively influenced by the evil. Little would work, short of a complete “rehab” by every member of our Congress, freeing them from dependence on campaign contributions. One can’t imagine anything but a tremendous upwelling of public opinion motivating such a miracle come-to-Jesus moment.  

Then, even if America were able to put a rein on those who control our sick economy, how is that going to help the entire world? I can’t imagine it doing so, except as maybe a positive example. But to cure a patient as large as Earth’s economy, one has to start somewhere.  Five little stones (figuratively speaking) could ultimately fell this Goliath.