Sunday, September 5, 2010

good and evil

On television, The History Channel tends to be top-heavy with clips of World War II and thin-tea approaches to Nostradamus/Apocalypse/Revelations/Anti-Christ/Doom-'n'-Gloom.

But yesterday, during a channel-flip, something caught my ear on The History Channel. I probably got it wrong, but how wrong, I'm not sure.

What I heard was that up until the Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews started promulgating their faiths, the notions of good and evil were joined at the hip so to speak -- kin whose separation was impossible. This accords with anyone's common sense and yet the dream/belief/hope that there might be some light without darkness was so compelling that common sense was swept aside in a bolt of pure light ... or pure darkness, I suppose.

Pure goodness surrounded by imaginative tales of how evil entered the picture. No longer kin. No longer brother and sister. No longer fruit of the same loins.

And to the extent that I got this notion right, all I could think was, "No wonder things got so fucked up." Not that it's not human and understandable, but rather what a good pointer to return to a common sense that points more assuredly to understanding a peace.

Anyway, what I found interesting in what I only half-heard and perhaps heard badly was the delicious public relations to be found in good and evil. It's so damned attractive that it takes some real courage to get beyond Disneyland -- courage and patience and doubt.

What would man's good be without man's evil? And what would man's evil be without man's good? It is fertile ground for the weaving of tales (tales I have woven and so perhaps have you), but for the serious student, it is also idiotic and half-baked, a stumbling block made particularly dangerous by the vast social agreement it can invite.

If so-called good and so-called evil are separated, isn't this the same as taking the wetness from water? How good could a man possibly hope to be good without the capacity to purify evil? How good could he be if all he could do was to point out evil as distinct from good? How could God be God if God were not God?

It's not tricky of philosophical or religious. It requires no books and no hierarchy and no convincing. It just requires common sense and a willingness to pay attention.

Still ... what a great p.r. gimmick: Good and evil, separate and distinct. If you have any doubts about great p.r., just check out the size and membership of some of the megachurches in the Midwest.

If only it assured peace.

If only it worked.

PS. As a footnote, someone posted this oldie-but-goodie elsewhere:

A teacher asked the children to draw a picture. Checking on their progress the teacher asked one little girl: "what are you drawing?" the girl answered: "a picture of god". The teacher pointed out that no one knows what god looks like.
"They will in a minute," replied the little girl.


1 comment:

  1. So...

    "Still ... what a great p.r. gimmick: Good and evil, separate and distinct. If you have any doubts about great p.r., just check out the size and membership of some of the megachurches in the Midwest."

    You have made some observations worth considering from time to time. Sorry, but I think today you've missed the boat.

    I am reminded of the old Anthony and Jake type semi-true stories. Both live the same neighborhood, Anthony becomes a doctor, Jake is sucked into a gang and steals, deals drugs and murders. Is Anthony the essentially blest, and Jake the epitome of evil?

    Anthony heals, eases pain, and literally saves lives almost everyday for 30 odd years and Jake causes pain, destroys and takes lives for almost as long as he lives.

    The more astute point to numerous family, social and economic factors. The less astute simply stop at the labeling, and call Anthony "good" and Jake "evil."

    The more subtle minded, or, perhaps, they are just the contrarians, point out the good deeds Jake did do, and the bad things Anthony did.

    In the end we are rightly labeled by our actions: When we do good we do good, and when we do evil we do evil. Sure there are an infinite number of gray area deeds, and neither good nor evil deeds. What of it?

    The labels and the factors that influence overall behavior don't mean a damn when Anthony saves your wife's life or Jake kills your son

    Good and Evil is really not about P.R. and TV Ministries. It's about how we live our lives. It about how we do the best we can given our strengths and limitations.

    Yes, "Nobody's Perfect" but .... Anthony deserves a plaque, and Jake needs to be taken off the street.

    As for the big tent religions, and the TV ministries, a society needs to make available as much as possible quality education that teaches critical thinking skills then allow good principles like Bill of Rights to runs their course including Freedom of Religion.

    As for peace, it may be closer than we think, or it may be impossible, and depending or one's point of view at the time, may be both are true.