Plato's Play-Doh

Play-Doh for the Mind

Month: March, 2014

Good V. Evil

A Philosophical Examination of Good & Evil
Between Learner and Teacher




Learner: What is the basis of evil? Where does it come from, and why must God allow it?

Teacher: Evil has been around since the creation of man, for we are the only animal to perform such acts of sin. The source of evil has not, and will not, ever be known. Why do people kill? I do not know. Why do people cause pain? It is not within my knowledge. Why do people rape and torture? The answer escapes me. As for God, and why it may seem that he relinquishes the fight against evil, know this: God is not of human origin, he is a supernatural being, one that watches over us and guides us through life. He may have created humans, but when it comes to creating evil, we are the culprits. To my degree of knowledge, and from my own personal outlook, God will not solve problems that we put upon ourselves. He may help guide us through them, but as for taking the reins, this he will do not. Become acquainted with these thoughts, and develop your own perspective on the matter.

Learner: My feelings towards your answers are mixed. Why does evil, if it has been around since the creation of man, still continue to this day? And in our current times, why must people become more accustomed and accepting towards acts of violence?

Teacher: Evil will sadly be around forever, always lurking around the next corner, waiting to strike at any moment. The longer the existence of evil, the more acclimated we become to accepting it. Children today grow up with violence all around them, which undeniably attributes to the security of violent acts in the future. People will become increasingly violent as the years progress, and our society and culture will allow that to happen. Evil increases so ever slightly that many humans do not even know how prevalent it is becoming, which is a shame to say the least.

Learner: Your responses I shall consider with a great deal of emphasis. If I may, however, pose another question to you, what about acts of goodness? Where do they come from, and why is it even more prevalent than evil? What accounts for this?

Teacher: I can see your mind at work already. Stay on this path and you will see that you will soon know the answers to the types of questions you ask of me. But let us go back to your inquiry about goodness. Acts of goodness have been around not just since the creation of man, but since the creation of the universe, which in itself was an act of good, correct? Here on earth, goodness has presided over the origins of all life forms, and in essence you could say that the reason that there is life here on earth is because goodness had been in existence long before life came about. It lent its hands to create everything from simple cells such as prokaryotes to land plants to humans. Thankfully, goodness seems to surpass the quantities of evilness. However, this is a difficult statement to prove, for anything that is not evil may be regarded as good, no? Let us perhaps call this enigma “moral limbo”, for what is the thing that is neither bad nor good? In fact, the crux of the matter is what in fact constitutes as goodness? We all believe that we know evil when we see it, but what about acts of good? Let me inform you once again that evil acts are only perpetrated by humans, whereas goodness can come from any source in the universe. Take into account, for instance, the act of a honeybee extracting pollen from a sunflower. The sunflower arises from the dirt of the earth to provide the bee with components vital to its survival. This is certainly not an act of evil, but is it indeed an act of good? I ask you to ponder this and find within yourself the answer to this most difficult of predicaments.

Learner: Your insight is reflective, for not once have these thoughts entered my mind. If you will allow me to do so, let me ask of you another answer pertaining to a question about goodness. If in fact, contrary to your belief, goodness does not prevail over evilness, then do they even themselves out? And if so, is that necessarily good? Also, you mention that goodness had a part in creating humans. If this is so, then goodness is responsible for the creation of evil, correct?

Teacher: Well done, for you are quickly learning how to dissect the intricacies of such profound inquiries. No one will ever truly know if good and evil cast each other out. We all may have opinions on the matter, in which I have already presented mine, however the truth will sadly never be found here on earth. Yet, if good and evil do indeed cast each other out, what is left but nothingness? There must surely be a leader in this battle between forces, for if there wasn’t, then we would be in a void state of being. As for the answer to your second question, yes, it is my belief that goodness did in fact create evil. There are always adverse effects of blissful acts, i.e. goodness. Like we have previously pondered, goodness created humans, whom I had mentioned are the only things in the universe that are capable of evil doings. In conclusion, evilness is a necessity in life, for without it there would be no goodness. And without goodness, who are we to live a life, nay, how are we to live a life in which we have nothing to feel? For good and evil both bring about our innermost feelings that benefit our state of being.

Learner: My ears are delighted with what they have heard, for your vast knowledge has made the world a little bit easier to understand. I thank you for your guidance.

My Standards Can Go to Hell

Book cover option

I am a man who takes pride in having the utmost integrity, who cherishes the fact that I am incredibly understanding of people and their situations, who strives to be the best possible human being I can be, who reveres the reflection he sees every morning in the mirror. I am an extraordinary man, but where has that gotten me?

The last true friend I had was a kid named Ryan, and due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, that friendship ended when I was eleven. The following twelve years I blossomed in solitude. No friends to go hang out with, no pals to get into trouble with, no girls to develop a romance with. I have never been accosted with peer-pressure, for I never had any peers. I’m sorry to say that I never experienced any of the joys of growing up. No parties, no hilariously drunken nights, no make-out sessions, no goofing off in class. I have grown up alone, with only my thoughts, wishes and ideals to accompany me. Damn those ideals.

I would like you to do me a favor. Picture in your head a young boy in a glass box, watching the world go by, yet unable to hear anything besides his own thoughts. That young boy was me. Without any primary, firsthand knowledge to take into account, I created my own version of the world. One that I thought would sync with my own standards and expectations on how people should act, behave and feel. You may call this arrogance, naïveté or immaturity, but I prefer to be called Russell.

Now, come along with me as we fast forward to the present. I have just recently, within the past six months, begun to break through my glass box in an effort to become a member of society, endeavoring to actually live my life, and not let the world pass me by. I have attempted to go on dates, to make friends, to participate in social activities, to push my astonishingly heavy boundaries. And what has come of these attempts? I’ll tell you what.

I have been stood up, insulted and played. I’ve been ignored, lied to and left hanging. I have been discounted, overlooked and tossed aside. I’ve been deceived, ridiculed and mentally defaced. I’ve been trampled on, spit on, chewed up and spit out.

Above all, however, I have been hurt. And do you want to know what the worst part is? I pride myself in adhering to my values, principles, morals and ethics, and yet I am the one who always comes away limping. I have oftentimes wondered what it would be like to have no standards, to only care about myself and to squeeze every last drop of joy from a situation, even if it means giving the finger to others.

I have come to realize that as I grew into the man that I am, with no contact with the outside world, I put upon myself standards that I thought to be the norm. Yet as I slowly walk further and further away from my glass box, it becomes apparent that I far surpassed all expectations of what a “good human-being” is made of, and that I overshot my goal of being a stand-up guy.

There are times when I would love to go back to my glass box, because in all honesty, society has let me down. The amount of human decency in this world has let me down. Above all, I let myself down, because I vastly overestimated the makeup of the fabric of moral integrity.

Before I finish, let me make one thing clear. I know for a fact that there are some incredible people out there. People who are full of love, generosity, kindness and honor. I just have yet to meet many of those people, and I anxiously await the moment when I do.

All in all, I will stick to my principles and stand by my values. I will conduct myself professionally and grant an abundant amount of courtesy to others, even if they do not deserve it. I will live to be the admirable man that I want to be, regardless of where it may get me in life. I cannot and will not change who I am, for my ideology is ingrained within me.

And so I say to you this:
My standards can go to Hell, but I will be with them every step of the way.