“There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. ‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.’ I been sayin’ that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker ‘fore you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin’ made me think twice. Now I’m thinkin’, it could mean you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. .45 here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or is could by you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’. I’m tryin’ real hard to be a shepherd.”
Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield – Pulp Fiction – diner scene at end of movie
Today’s chapter, the final for this lesson plan, deals with a reoccurring theme in every society. While we all have varying opinions on religion, god, heaven, hell, angels, and demons we all believe in good and evil. There are examples of both is every recordable tidbit of information cultures have communicated. Lore and traditions are shaped around both and the struggle between them. I am here to say there is evil and good in this world, and it lives in each one of us. We are born with the capacity to do both, how well we handle both forces is an end result of our choices and understanding of these choices. Is there such thing as a purely evil or good person? I would have to say no, just as there is no truly neutral person. We all recognize these forces when we encounter or see them. We can accurately separate them, most of them anyway and deduce there actions are the results of people aligned more on one side then the other.
The battle between the two is as old as we are. Have you ever wondered why this is? I have and after many years spent on this have come to this conclusion; we are the creators and curators of both. In the natural world there are no evil or good deeds, all deeds done by our brothers and sisters are either truly self serving or preserving the bloodline. Animal parents will sacrifice themselves protecting their young to give there genes a better chance of surviving. Pack animals will act in ways to improve the bonds as they all know they only exist if the pack succeeds. Animals playing are merely practicing skills they need to succeed in life. Remember the life of our animal cousins are fully consumed on food, reproduction, and safety… there is little need for anything else, as time wasted on other activities will almost spell certain self destruction. It is we who give an animal’s actions the connotation of good or evil. If an animal does something we believe if beneficial or honorable we state it is good, if they kill not for food or shun a weaker member we state that action is evil. An animal’s world is all about surviving to the next day, their concept of the future is no where close to that of ours.
Seeing we are the ones who label actions as good or evil, and knowing we are capable of both we need to know how to spot the varying shades of gray between the three extremes we occupy. In the 1980’s I witnessed a very disturbing trend that has continued to this day. That of the flirting and believing that evil is cool and accepted, even sought after in our pop culture. I have seen it start with the aspiring vampires, to the Danzig fans, to the goths, to the gangstas, to those shedding Satanism and embracing doing cruel things for nothing more then just to do them. Now I wear black most of the time, mainly because I like the color, and because it is the best color to be wearing when trying to hide. I listen to Danzig, Disturbed, Godsmack, and others not for their message or lyrics or because they are ‘so freakin’ cool’ but because they put so much emotion into there music, it is real for them and therefore they believe in it and make it the best they can, they do not care about popularity, or record sales (par say) nor do they care about what critics say, they care about their music… how many top 40 artists can truly say that? I do not believe in there vision of things. I do not do cruel things. I do not do hurtful things. I do not flirt with evil. For those old enough, or fortunate enough, to have seen Twin Peaks you will recall one of the main themes of the series was the battle between good and evil and how much over your head you can get if you try to face it without a pure heart. As we all have heard; ‘the road to ruin is paved with good intentions’.
For those who thing evil is just a mirror image of good, I hate to be the one to inform you it isn’t. It is the opposite energy, but there is no love or kinship within the realm of evil. Even the most hard core poser will show fear if looked in the eye by one consumed by evil. An evil person will do evil deeds to all in their way; they will only act kind if they need something you have. They are the epitome of selfishness. History is filled with examples of evil people, most are mad, and very few aspire to be associated with them, except for the few who have the delusion they can be greater at being evil the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gasey, Martin Bryant, and various other real and fictional characters and more. These people are craving the celebrity and attention of the whole affair. If you examine these people who conducted truly evil acts you see they did not do so for fame, fortune, notoriety, or attention quite to the contrary they wanted to stay concealed until they wanted to be captured. Evil is a state of mind, a philosophy where the only thing known is hatred and the power to take and do as you please. Evil is jealous of the power and hold that good has over us. It is envious of the light and admiration good inspires in us. For that reason it will seduce with promises it know it can’t keep, knowing the emptiness left will consume and cause us to try to fill this void with its calling. Evil begets evil.
Good on the other hand is something we are not normally trying to achieve either. Many will avoid doing good deeds. They come up with myriad excuses why they can not participate. We all know there are homeless, less fortunate, beaten, starving, and oppressed people in our community, maybe even only a few feet from where we live; yet we do little to truly help them or better there situation. We willingly turn a blind eye and continue on with our lives in shameful ignorance. Just as people will flirt with evil, they will flirt with good. Instead of being labeled as posers these are given the title of hypocrite. They flaunt there good deeds around like a badge of honor. They set up foundations, organize rallies, donate money and sometimes money, and demand we do the same, yet they live in a standard way out of touch with those they claim to help. They own sports teams, artists, buildings, and political influence yet they do little to inconvenience their own accustomed lifestyles. There actions reflect guilt more then sincerity. If they were truly righteous would they not live like most of us, work most of their spare time either working the cause or promoting awareness and sinking a majority of their wealth into the charity? Just as with evil good has its rational limits. We can aspire toward good and good deeds, but must realize we can only get so far, just as those aspiring toward evil.
Those playing both sides against the middle for there own personal advancement are the neutral ones. Neutrality means being able to chose one over the other to fit the situation and environment. They balance the good and evil deeds to meet their own agenda, never doing one or the other for any purpose beyond their own gain. They can just as easily give a homeless person money as they can kick them. There are very few if any purely neutral people. We all in the very beginning of our understanding are taught that we are to aspire to do good and not evil, this is universal across cultures and societies. For this reason most of us lean towards the good spectrum rather then the evil one. We do not trust anyone living a neutral existence, and can not understand those gravitating toward evil. Even the evil posers will exhibit signs of good, petting a puppy, playing with a baby, having a friend, and then helping them, enjoying something other then committing an evil and destructive act. Neutral people do not necessarily see any one method more or less favorable then the other, to them the ends justify the means. This is what makes them so dangerous and hard to be. In a culture and society of laws and rules there isn’t a situation where this type of thinking is acceptable. It is too self serving to work on a scale involving others.
This is where the shades of gray we live in come into play. We hold the capacity to do either at any given time given the proper circumstances. Yet we can identify and weigh the options. We chose to do one over the other. A good person can do an evil deed, and that does not negate the good they have done in the past, nor does it hint toward their future plans. Despite our teachings we always come up with loop holes and work arounds to these evil acts good people commit. Is this to ease the mind of the offender? Maybe it is an acknowledgement of past deeds or a hopeful presumption the person will not stray from the right path in the future? We accept excuses of self-defense, PMS, a bad mood, protection of property or weaker persons, a tragic personal experience, etc. for evil actions committed my otherwise good people. More accurately these offenses are neutral actions, a balancing of our deeds so to speak. We are taught two wrongs do not make a right, but we also know the expressions of fight fire with fire, and eye for an eye, and turn the other check. Is it possible to fight evil with evil or good with good? Not entirely. If we fall into this situation all we are doing is substituting one form of evil or good with another. No matter where on the spectrum the deed lies, evil is still evil even if it is of a lesser degree. It is basically like temperature, the difference to water between -20 and 31 degrees isn’t all that much, they both are freezing.
In life one of the hardest things we need to learn is how to identify and stay away from evil and neutral people. We tend to see the best in all people, give them the benefit of the doubt and a second chance to redeem them selves. This is fair but if things turn out opposite of these second, third, and fourth chances we need to cut our losses and move on. Remember these people are not concerned with us, our feelings, our well being, or the advancement of our society or culture. The neutral person is only going to do what they can to advance their cause, and they will use all those around them to achieve this goal in the least amount of time and with minimal effort. The evil person will only take the advantage of a second opportunity to repeat their deeds or increase them as chaos and mayhem are they only goals. They are looking at the world from a completely different place and we can not make them see things from our perspective. Does this mean they are hopeless and doomed? No for if they want to change, they have the power to if they are willing to change their philosophy and core belief systems. A very hard thing to do as their path has always been a relatively easy one. What is good hard to achieve while evil easy? The truth is evil isn’t easy to achieve, but the initial steps are, making the slide down easier to justify and accept. Good is hard work but the satisfaction gained from its deeds far outreach the effort put in.
Knowing all the above information, how do we avoid evil people? Simply observe them and the situation and then trust our gut. It doesn’t take long to know if something feels right or not. Trust your gut, do not trust those telling you to go against it. Those trying to talk you into a choice you are having doubts on are trying to sway you to their side, no matter what that may be. Evil people have an air of discomfort about them, we can’t quite put or finger on it but we know something bad is going on. Looking into people’s eyes are also a dead give away. The element of mischief always burns in the eyes of the evil person. Evil people tend to be by them selves, though they will congregate, but there will be an air of hostility between them. Evil people will always use a bait and switch approach. Their game is deception, the more they can distract the better. They have no issue with lying, to them lying is an evil deed, therefore a good deed in their mind. The old adage of misery loving company also comes into play here, as it is good for them to inflict perceived pain onto others to make them ‘see’ things from their perspective. People striving for evil do not see going further down the path a bad idea. An evil person is fully comfortable where they are and the position they are proposing. They have an air of confidence that is strong. The best thing to do if placed into a situation involving an uncomfortable choice is to remove yourself prior to making a bad decision, or make the decision you can live with, with little to no regrets. Always weigh your actions against the scale, and those you look up to and admire. What would they do? It may sound lame, but it will settle any internal arguments you may be having.
We have learned that evil and good are a part of us, who we are. We have also learned that pure evil, neutral, or good is nearly impossible to achieve. Most of us live in the gray spectrums between the 3 extremes. There are those who will purposely present them selves on either end of the spectrum, these people are not true to their advertisement and should be discounted. Both sets of deeds are easy to recognize and our gut tells us which side they fall under. We are capable of doing either deed, good or evil depending on the situation, circumstances, and consequences. For this reason we must be careful on what and how we do things. We are taught the difference from an early age and therefore can identify either side, and must. It is up to us to determine how we will face the decisions we have to make regarding good and evil. We need to learn to spot the characteristics of the evil person and avoid them. As they may seem charming and promise various things, they are masters of deceit and will count on your generosity to further there own agendas. Stay alert and chose wisely when the time comes, as you will have to live with the decisions you make.