A look at the polarizing way we look at people and the reasons it needs to stop.
We have a tendency towards absolutes because they make us feel comfortable. Absolutes are simple, and complexity can make us uncomfortable and unsure, which is why our brains like to categorize things this way. Well, we have come far in our learning processes since we stumbled our way onto dry land, and I think it’s time we started accepting the way forward is in the deconstruction of our bad habits. The religion of good and evil must go.
Black and white. Right and wrong. Good and evil. Through categories, it’s easy to start tossing the greys of the world in their generality but doing so throws out the baby with the bath water. Statements like “Drugs are bad” can feel right, but what about all the drugs which help mankind? How about making it even simpler. Meth is bad… Well, I’d like to point out that a meth compound is responsible for combating a lot of mental abnormalities such as ADHD. All this is to point out that real life is never so simple as black and white. It’s in the greys of the world where we live and struggle, and we should start to accept that.
I call “Good and Evil” a religion because it has become a societal belief which too many imbibe wholesale. For instance, saying, “She’s just evil” for someone who exhibits a few unliked characteristics instead of “she’s just flawed”. Such a perspective poisons our minds and starts to turn anyone we don’t like into someone who is a monster, no longer a person with good and bad traits. It justifies anything bad we think or do and creates a polarizing spiral that is incredibly difficult to reverse once started.
People are not “Good or Evil”. Sure, someone can exhibit many of the traits we associate with one or the other, but even someone with a large multitude of good aligning traits can have parts of them which align with the opposite number. By categorizing them we begin to overlook what traits they have which are contrary and build up a perception that is not really the person before us. It is unfair and leads to misunderstandings which could be easily thwarted with a little attention.
If we can break down the walls of categorization, we can look at a person as the sum of their parts again. Anger, which so often derides from confused passion, would cease and we could coolly look at the problem before us. Instead of simply deciding it was bad and not worth our time. It would also help us to stop lifting up seemingly “Good” people so high that they eventually fail our expectations and come crashing back to earth. It is unfair to them and ourselves, and we owe ourselves to evolve past this phenomenon.
Something that is present in every strong relationship is the ability to keep focus on the problems at hand and not fall into pointing fingers. It’s not people versus each other, its humans versus the problem. I think a little of that mindset can be regained by tearing down the religion of good and evil, and I hope you’ll join me in this fight.
I’ll leave you with a few words along the same lines. Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. has a wonderful famous quote that I think pertains, and I, myself, wrote a little poem to communicate my thoughts and feelings as best as possible. Enjoy!
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Good and Evil
Good and Evil are illusions
Created to make us comfortable
And I think it’s time we evolved past them
The concept of good gives us happy thoughts
It gives us hope there’s a higher purpose
And doubt that all the bad things could win
Evil gives us something to overcome
It makes our victories seem greater
By creating a justification for our judgements
But if we eliminate this thinking
We enable our minds to peel back
the layers of the human condition
Getting to the root cause and effect
It’ll be hard and utterly without objective meaning
But it will lead to a brighter future
One where the truth can be accepted
Without the religion of good and evil.