Good & Evil

Good & Evil

There are always two forces
warring against each other within us.
Paramahansa Yogananda

What does it mean to be a good person? What does it mean to be an evil person? We hear these terms thrown around often, “He is a good guy.” or “That man is evil.” But what do these things really mean? Are we even in a position to judge whether someone is good or evil? These are questions which seem simple to answer, that is until you start to truly examine them closer.

Moral philosophy is nothing else
but the science of good and evil.
Thomas Hobbes

While it is pretty obvious when someone is truly evil down to his core, it is a little trickier to know whether or not someone is really a good person. We know that some people are purely evil. People such as serial killers, ruthless dictators who kill thousands of innocent people, and politicians (I had to throw that in there!).  hahaha  The evil man is fairly obvious to recognize after his actions have been brought to light, but what about the good man?

How do you recognize a good man? Is it by his words? Is it the fact that he doesn’t kill or rob other people? Does his actions prove that he is a good man? What are the characteristics of a good man? People say all sorts of things, and have been known to lie… Many people refrain from breaking the law out of fear of punishment, not because they are good people… A man’s actions can be only for show…

Things do not pass for what they are,
but for what they seem…

Things are judged by how they look,
even though most things are far
different from what they appear.

Baltasar Gracian

Are you starting to get the point? It is much harder to truly know if someone is honestly a good person. The reason for this is that in order to know if someone is truly a good person, you have to have some insight into their spirit, their heart, and their mind. The truly good person is good on the inside. It has to get right on the inside before it can ever be right on the outside. This is where is gets tricky.

Good means not merely not to do wrong,
but rather not to desire to do wrong.

How can you really know what is inside someone’s mind. What are his intentions. When you get down to it, it is a person’s underlying intentions which make him a good person or a bad person. Things are never as black and white as they seem on the surface. John Wayne said, “There’s right and there’s wrong.” This is true. Right and wrong are black and white, but being able to distinguish between the two is not so clean-cut. This is why you should be very careful about judging others.

A door must either be open or shut.
French Proverb

To every man there opens a high way and a low way,
every man decides the way his soul will go.
John Oxenham

We have to be careful about judging others simply because we don’t have access to all the information that we need to make a clear judgment. We can’t see what is in someone’s mind. We don’t know their intentions. Many people act in a certain way simply to maintain their cleverly constructed reputation, but this may or may not be who they truly are. It takes time and close association to really know someone.

The most exhausting thing in life,
I have discovered, is being insincere.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The good man is good inside and out. His actions mirror his thoughts. His intentions are pure, although many times the results of his actions may not go as he had planned. His heart is cleansed of malice. Whether or not someone is a good person depends on much more than whether he obeys the law or goes to church. Too many people judge people on these external traits without considering what is on the inside.

With sincerity, there is virtue.
Shinto Maxim

The first duty is to behave with purity of intention.
Sheikh Muzaffer

Don’t be too quick to judge someone or to label them as either a good person or a bad person. Just like every other decision, it is foolish to jump to a conclusion without knowing all the facts. Next time you are tempted to make a judgment or take someone’s word concerning someone’s character, ask yourself if you have all of the information that you need to make an intelligent decision about this person. Good and evil are black and white, but your ability to discern each is a giant gray area.

Appear as you are; be as you appear.

Warrior Wisdom

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