I’ve been thinking lately about good and evil.
I’ve especially been pondering, over my chocolate milk, whether human beings are innately good and learn to do evil things or are innately evil and learn to do good things.
Of course…like all things…it’s both and it’s neither. Damn enigmatic universe.
But…how to squish it into my hard little skull in a way I can understand?
From what I’ve seen of this world (which, frankly, 32 years is not that long to have looked around and come up with any real answer) there really isn’t as many ~evil~ people out there as there is regular people backed into a corner. Desperation brings the average Joe to commit the most evil acts. So does insanity, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Terrorists, often, are people who feel they have no alternative…that they have no other choice but to fight the only way they can against someone who’s far stronger than they are. Insurgents are doing what they can to keep fighting for what ~they~ believe is right. In the case of Iraq, it just happens we (in the western world) don’t agree with them. That doesn’t make them evil…it makes them scared. Think about the change their country is undertaking. Change, as we all know, is frightening when, say, we’re changing careers or our clothing style. Imagine what this change feels like to someone who’s life has been determined by a man in the US deciding it was time…and sends in troops to prove it. The acts of the insurgents have been evil but the people performing them are terrified (and seen violence brought to them) and feel there is no other course. We all know they’d get creamed if they even stopped for a second to ~think~ about ‘playing fair’.
(…while writing this, I’m considering the questions, “Is Bush and evil man? Is Bin Ladan? Is Hussain? Was Hitler?” and the answer is ‘I don’t know’. Well, I mean, of course I don’t. All have made evil decisions…but I it’s far beyond me to declare if an individual were to be evil or not. Yup…I think the wisest thing here is to leave individuals out of it, no matter how tempting it would be…)
Even so, there plainly are evil people out there. It’s often the job of evil people to reign in the confused ones, so they can be found sometimes in positions of power. And really, I’m sure we’ve all met someone who’s just plain mean to the core. Not ‘rebels’…not the typical brawlers and hooligans you see at the bar…but the ones you’ve met that you know haven’t had one thought as to the wellbeing of anyone else ever. I’m thinking of a girl I used to know in high school who’s life’s work revolved around making others miserable. If that girl is the same person now…she is f-ing evil.
However, I’m the same person that marvels over the average person’s behaviour during different stages of anonymity. Have you noticed how the internet can really bring the a-hole out in someone? It is more comfortable to be meaner in an email than it is the phone….and more the phone than in person. In person you have to really be angry to be mean to them…as mean as you would be behind your computer. And even then, you can be meaner to a stranger than to someone you know.
(Of course, we all know that we can all be super mean to the people we love the most, but that’s not anonymity, that’s just knowing they will accept you for who you are.)
So..what’s that all about? I’ve had people give me the finger in cars that I ~know~ would’t do it if they had to talk to me face to face about the same incident. And I’m not particularly scary. Why, then? The more anonymous, the less chance you’ll have to suffer repercussions…so we go ahead and do it.
Where does that all sit in the humans = good vs humans = evil debate? Because even though most people will mouth the words ‘fuck you’ to the guy in the car in front of them or type furiously that someone ‘can’t get laid’ in an internet chatroom, I would be hard pressed to call it all ‘evil’.
Perhaps we’re all innately selfish?
Perhaps we’re all caught up in our own heads and we really have to work to understand other people.
That would make sense. As babies all we do is think about ourselves. We wake our parents at all hours to get what we want and when we want it. Our mothers could be suffering a nervous breakdown while we want a cookie and unless we’re ~taught~ to give a crap, we won’t.
So..maybe that’s it. We’re just all born selfish.
That would explain why my neighbour is an asshole when he parks.