It’s a matter of perspective isn’t it? Knowledge always empowers us to see things from different perspectives. One with no knowledge, no memory, and no experience has a very limited database from which to draw conclusions. Or perhaps all this memory and experience which comes with age corrupts our original instinctual definitions of good verse evil. I picture a young child sitting at the heels of a wise older statesperson. The young child is telling of an evil person he has met, everything in his small body tells him that what this person has done is bad and in his simplicity he tells the old lady that this person is evil. The old lady has lived, she has been through a lot in her life and all the lessons are stored away to draw from day to day. She sits the little boy on her lap and provides a compassionate explanation of why this person may be behaving badly. Initially this doesn’t sit well with this little boy, he knows what good and bad or evil behaviour is and this is clearly the latter. Calmly and insistently the old lady draws on the little boy’s empathy to understand why this person may be behaving thus. Eventually he comes to understand that this person may be good just like him but that his environment may have taught him to behave in an “evil” manner.
Good versus evil is definitely a matter of perspective. I was only thinking this last night reading a book “You call It Desert- We Used to Live there” a book about the life of Jimmy Pike, a successful indigenous artist who lived in the middle of Australia in the Great Sandy Desert. To the cushy sensibilities of us soft indulged “whities”, many aspects of the unforgiving desert would be evil to us in the battle for survival. However, reading this book the never-ending sand, the spiky Spinifex, the bitter poisonous seeds, the venomous snakes are all “good” and a source of food and protection.
Julian Assange is evil to some and saintly to others. He is splitting the globe on this issue, three countries are fighting to get him tried in their country. Others are going to great lengths to defend him as the bastion of truth. Everywhere in life we are met with such contradictions, it is a sea of confusion. People from every walk of life have to navigate these situations daily and we all bring wildly different perspectives depending on our experiences and early environmental influences. Just when you think something is black and white, good or evil, someone brings a shade of grey to the tablet and once again we are thrown back into discussion and contemplation.
When you say, “let’s put a cow in the middle of your home” to a starving family in Africa, and say the same thing to a rich American family, you’ll get different answers. But that’s not because it’s good for one and bad for the other. It’s because they are judging different things: the Africans are judging having food to eat, while the Americans are judging having crap to clean up and keep away from a wild animal in the middle of their expensive home.
So, I don’t think that “good” and “evil” are so much so subjective, so much as it is that we see different things and judge different things while pointing in the same direction. We, as those having the conversations, think we’re talking about the same thing, but we’re not. And we make this assumption that “poisonous snakes” are good for those starving in the desert, while comfy “whities” in Australian cities find them dangerous and bad, so those two words must be subjective. But the truth is, even though you use the same words, they are interpreting different questions, and so you’re getting different answers based on that.
Basically, what I’m saying is, maybe the grey isn’t as intrusive as we think, we just need to pay closer attention.
Perspective is deff. important as someone could think they are doing something “good” when in fact they are doing something “evil”. It is very relative to the individual and situation. Not to mention that most situations like The_truth_id_ said that are grey. I always find myself reflecting on some of my choices I have made in the past and think “I am evil”, now I think “I do good”. Not to mention sometimes we are driven to do evil things so that we make room for good things.