If There Is Evil In All, How Does Good Get The Priority?

Is the question too vague? Let me explain in whatever way I can.

When you set out to see the good in those around you, you realise that all are riddled with splatters of both — the good and the vile. Even the best ones. If you are an idealist, how do you live with that? If you aren’t, how do you live?

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14 thoughts on “If There Is Evil In All, How Does Good Get The Priority?”

  1. Speaking for myself, there are times when I am the bitterest cynic in the whole wide world! But despite all my disillusionments with those around me, I try to tell myself that I must believe in humanity, its potential for goodness, not necessarily its goodness (because at times, I see none) but its potential for it, and that, no matter what I see around me being done and committed, we are all essentially more than that! This doesn’t make me a hopeless romantic (or at least I like to believe it), because I admit that people are wretched (I see enough of that in myself) but that we could be more and better. We must believe that. For believing in Man is believing in Me. I can be good, I can be great, I can be worth something; and how can I believe that about myself without believing the same about all of us?

    I, too, ask your question: If you don’t believe this, “how do you live?”

    1. If I were to simply take your word (and mine, for sure), I’d be happier. For it takes me to a place where there is more hope than disillusionment. But I don’t do that. I bring with me a seed of doubt. What if we are all actually mostly wretched — driven by our vices and not the potential for improved goodness? What if we buckle under the pressures of our minds, bodies, emotions and experiences? What if?

      And yet, that little lamp of hope throws in some light every now and then. For instance, through you this time! A big hug.

  2. On my “About Me” page, I indicate that one of the basic life choices is either/or, or both/and. I’m very much a both/and sort of person, and have been by nature my entire life. Eventually, I found a faith that gave expression to my view of the world. The good Martin Luther taught that dividing people into either saints or sinners is foolishness. Each of us is both — only the proportion varies from time to time.

    In like manner, his theology was done in terms of both/and categories: law and gospel, for example. And turning from religion, we find the same dynamic in nature. Shadow and sunlight belong together: having to choose either one of the other would be unbearable. I could go on, but I suppose the point’s made.

    As for idealists — I’ve known a few, and they tend to be unhappy sorts, as are the cynics. The idealists often are distressed by the evil in the world, and cynics are distressed by the happiness. I just take each day, each person, each experience, as it comes.

    1. Ah, the balance. I seek it, achieve it and then it slips out of my very hands without telling me it is doing so. And then, of a sudden, I wake up and realise that it is gone, leaving me less adept at enticing it back. You must be remarkable for having maintained it for so long! Does it become second nature after a while? Easy? I must keep at it to know.

  3. One of the comforts I’ve grabbed – opposites need to exist in every aspect of life and living. Without both, we couldn’t experience what we have as our great teachers – our emotions and feelings. If we had only love, we wouldn’t know it. We realize love when it’s absent or overshadowed. If we had only light, we wouldn’t know it…etc. etc.

    It took maturation for me to accept my dark side – I wanted to deny it. Facing my character defects means feeling such gratitude when goodness is a default. Fleeting, but significant. And certainly my life’s work.

    1. It must feel so relaxing to know that you are not fighting against yourself — in the sense of acceptance and improvement. You just know who you are, acknowledge it and seek to either remain so, or improve. How wonderful! Certainly a colossal task, Amy!

      1. Oh Priya, I’m always observing and questioning myself – in spite of great reassurances from very good sources. A Tibetan Buddist Pema Chödrön wrote that always wanting to change ourselves is a form of self abuse. If I adopt that teaching, it means (to me) that I have to have strong faith that I’ll have everything I need when I need it. It’s trusting that myself and others will be given insights that automatically cause behaviour to change. I believe that, but forget it very often! So I plod along looking a ways to grow and improve.

  4. Dear Priya,
    I’m not blogging anymore so I haven’t been to your blog in a long time. Sorry dear friend. Anyway I just wanted to tell you I was here. And love what I see. Keep writing.

  5. You ask the eternal question of humanity. I agree with Souldipper. We can’t know good without the face of evil to show us the difference. Imagine living in an all white world. (or all of any color.) And think how boring life would be if each of us and all our friends and family were saints! Where would we find depth? How could we even carry on interesting conversations?

  6. That’s a great question.

    Millennia of Religion and philosophy have depicted human life as that eternal conflict between the Good and Bad. The Goodness of Creation and Harmony ranged against the Badness of Destruction and Chaos. As I look down from the metaphysical level, I recall ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ amongst the earliest words I learnt as a child. All my fairy tales and comic books dealt with the likes of Krishna vs. Kanksh, Superman vs. Lex Lothar et al. I go through life and see my ‘Bad ‘instincts of jealousy and fear battle against the ‘Good’ strivings of my intentions and fulfillment.

    Awhile back, I too had mused on the aspect of Good versus Bad and, in fact, the above is but an extract from that. In the end, I had reached a fresh set of questions as under.

    “Could this be because ‘Bad’ signals that I need to change? And does my ‘Bad’ intuitively push me to adapt and change myself in line with a situation or environment? So does ‘Bad’ condition me to become more flexible and adaptive to an ever-changing world? Is this why my Bad is stronger and thus more relevant than my Good?”

    Cheers

    Shakti

    1. Dear Shakti,

      Your questions open a whole new perspective — one which might lead me closer to the answers that I seek.

      While the Bad in me makes me uncomfortable, that in others makes me look for reasons for empathy. It is a frustrating instinct. If I am able to ask these questions while I am exposed to unsettling behaviour in others, I might be able to find an equilibrium in my own response to them! Thank you.

      Warmth,

      Priya

  7. I believe in process. I think the good in another person or in society as a whole–no matter how small–gives us hope that as the process of life works itself out, good will win and overcome evil. And I happen to believe in a narrative that says that that is what the future holds: there will be a time when evil will be eradicated and good will be all there is. And that gives me something to look forward to, even on the days when evil seems to have the upper hand all around (and even within) me. Great question!

    1. Dear Kevin,

      You have a large heart. It is terribly difficult for a normal person to hope, leave alone believe, that there will come a day where there will be no evil. My heartfelt awe.

      Good to see you here again!

      Priya

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