“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.” – Anne Frank (1929-1945)
In the original Star Trek television series there was an episode where a higher intelligence wanted to know what was stronger, good or evil. This higher intelligence did what any higher intelligent being would do to solve the equation. Put a few good people and a few evil people on a barren planet and have them beat each other up. There was a lesson at the end of the episode. It’s not about which is stronger in fighting, it’s about what they are fighting for.
There have been many long discussions over many generations in regard to good and evil. These discussions must continue, and continue often. How do we know who we are without scrutinizing what is good, and what is evil? What is the agnostic standpoint? The agnostic approach is difficult as this discussion is subjective. In the spirit of an agnostic approach, I will provide various sources in my analysis.
I have a strong bias of good over evil as innately I am a good person. I’m a student of the great ancient Eastern and Western philosophers who were among the most moral and ethical people who ever lived. I follow the wisdom of Socrates that knowledge is good and ignorance is bad. Good is directly related to truth. Knowledge promotes ethical conduct while ignorance promotes corruption. The purpose of an agnostic is to obtain and promote truth, which is to obtain and promote what is good. What is good often differs from what is popular. So where do good and evil come from?
Good and evil exists in the animal and human world. There are insects and animals that have both good and evil traits and instincts. As the most advanced species on Earth, humans are able to magnify the good and evil that exists in animals. So what is good and what is evil? Are the definitions constant or do they change based on ruling party, society or religious views and customs? I, and many philosophers past and present, maintain that there are concrete definitions of good and evil. I don’t subscribe to the “might makes right” school of thought. I believe in right makes might. There are actions that are wrong regardless of anything. Acceptance of evil does not make evil good. The definition and impact of evil does not change due to ignorance.
“Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought. Let us have faith that right makes might and in that faith let us; to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” – Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Good is to create and do good by oneself, one’s family and society. Evil is to destroy and do evil by oneself, one’s family and society. There is some evil in good and some good in evil. A new tree in a crowded forest can only live and grow if another tree dies to let in needed sunlight. Sometimes creation requires destruction. Plant eaters need predators to keep their population steady or the plant eaters over populate and destroy all the vegetation. There is a balance of creation and destruction in nature. Often a society becomes closer and stronger when faced with an evil threat or action. Often a good society can become complacent and lazy when unthreatened allowing evil to grow from within unnoticed and unchallenged until it is deeply rooted.
Taoism (also known as Daoism) is an early Chinese religion which emphasizes a balance between humans and nature. One must be flexible and go with the flow. Taoism is represented by the Yin Yang symbol.
The black (Yin) and white (Yang) represent polar opposites, such as, but not specifically, good and evil. The symbol also represents the balance between each. There will always be good and always be evil. One cannot exist without the other. Chi is believed to be a vital energy in all things. It’s important to allow this energy to properly flow in the body and in the world. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that promotes the balance of Chi in the body. Feng Shui is the art of allowing Chi to flow properly in one’s environment.
Taoism is the practice of peacefully living in a world of opposing forces such as good and evil. It’s a faith that when good and evil are out of balance, the balance will return. Go with the flow. In Taoism, it’s important to be flexible.
Taoism addresses good and evil and provides a method for living with them. There is a balance that exists between all extremes. I use the example of the pendulum to represent balance in the world. When the pendulum is centered, there is balance. The object is perfectly aligned with its’ true value. When the pendulum is to the right the object is overvalued. There will be a correction in which the value lessens. When the pendulum is to the left the object is undervalued. There will be a correction in which the value increases. Think of the stock market and real estate market. The pendulum is always swinging back and forth. When the market is calm and rational, the pendulum swings slowly in short distances. When the market is in chaos the pendulum swings wildly in large distances.
When the pendulum is out of balance the best solution is a controlled adjustment. This takes a proactive future looking approach. Unfortunately, many leaders are short sighted and only concerned with the near future. They then have to react to unforeseen required adjustments without planning, with disastrous results as a consequence. An example would be a president claiming seven hundred billion dollars is needed immediately, without any kind of planning on what the money will be used for, in order to save the economy. Spending money without a well thought out plan is to recklessly throw money away. After a short period of time, the money is gone and we have no idea where it went.
“Order marches with weighty and measured strides. Disorder is always in a hurry.” – Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
War and peace do not last forever. When there is war have faith that there will be peace. When there is peace one must be vigilant of conflict and war. There are some things that are out of our control. We must do what we can to fight the good fight. We must also have faith that when things are bad, they will get better.
Sometimes we are stabbed in the back; sometimes people do us wrong. There are many people throughout my life who have done me wrong. There are exponentially far more people throughout my life that have done me right. You will not always have an opportunity to confront people who were intentionally harmful due to many circumstances including timing, location and politics. You will not always have an opportunity to thank people who have been kind and generous. When situations like this occur, we need to have faith that there will be a balance. What goes around comes around. One way or another, justice will be served. For the people who have done us wrong, either we let it be, or hold onto the anger and injustice. Often we do hold on to anger, but it subsides over time. I’m not a believer that time heals all wounds; however, it can take the edge off of the pain.
“Ronny Cammareri: I ain't no freakin' monument to justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget!?” (The movie Moonstruck, 1987)
Do good and evil really exist in the animal world? I would argue that they absolutely do. The varieties in animal life on Earth are miraculous. Animals exist that can produce light, see with sonar, spin webs, morph into butterflies and can change color to camouflage with their surroundings. We have predators and we have prey. There are plant eaters that do not harm other animals, and there are meat eaters that take lives. We have alligators, sharks, piranhas and mosquitoes. We have swans, dolphins, deer and fireflies. There are animals that represent all the good and bad qualities of mankind, from unconditional protective love to thoughtless destruction.
Let’s examine characteristics that are good and that are evil. The evil characteristics include some of those mentioned in the Bible that could land you into the fiery pits of hell. As evil is too strong of a term for many of the negatively categorized characteristics, I will use the term “bad” characteristics. The following list and analysis are subjective and my own opinion. Everyone should individually go through this exercise at some time to obtain a clear personal definition of good and evil character. Good and bad characteristics include:
Strong - tough
Weak - fragile
Generous - big hearted, giving, charitable
Selfish - self-centered
Aware - conscious, alert
Ignorant - unaware, uninformed
Humble - modest
Arrogant - conceited, big headed
Courage - brave
Cowardice - spinelessness
Tolerant - understanding, charitable, forgiving
Intolerant - prejudiced, narrow-minded, unsympathetic
Kindness - compassion, empathy, sympathy, considerate
Wickedness - sinful, immoral, cruel
Contentment - satisfaction, happiness
Greed - gluttony, self-indulgence
Respectful - admiration, reverence
Condescending - patronizing, pompous, snobbish
Confidence - self-Assurance, self-belief
Jealousy - envious, resentful
Integrity - honesty, truthfulness, reliability
Dishonesty - deceit, fraudulence, corruption
Patience - tranquil, serenity, calm
Impatience - anxious, uptight
Strong and Weak
In order to claim that one is better than the other, this analysis is based on mankind being generally good and strength and weakness is in regard to good people. The terms strong and weak are not in regard to physical strength. Strong and weak are to describe determination, willpower and resolve. Why is this important? Strong willpower is required to fight evil. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797) Strong determination triumphs physical strength. The Navy Seals are one of the elite fighting forces in the US. The trials to become a Seal are extremely tough. When analyzing those who have failed the test in comparison to those that have passed, there was a characteristic that was more attributed to success than physical strength that made the difference. It was mental toughness. It was determination.
In J. R. R. Tokens’ Lord of the Rings, Gandalf was not strong enough to carry the corruptible ring of power. Instead of a mighty wizard the task went to a meek hobbit. The hobbit was not stronger in strength but stronger in resistance to corruption.
An example of weakness and how that relates to evil can be found in the Milgram experiment which began in 1961. It is unfortunate the footage of this experiment is not available to the general public at the time of this writing. Psychologist Stanley Milgram performed social psychological experiments to measure obedience to an authority figure. Unsuspecting subjects were hired to do a job they thought was to assist in the study of memory. The job was to punish someone for not correctly answering questions. In the experiment, there were three roles, the experimenter, the teacher and the learner. The job was to be a teacher (this is the subject of the experiment; the other two roles are cohorts and in on the real study). The experimenter tells the teacher what to do and wears a lab coat.
The teacher has a panel of electric shock switches that are to be used when the learner gives the wrong answer or doesn’t answer at all. In the original experiments, the learner who would receive the shocks was not visible. The learner was in a separate room with an audio connection. In later experiments the learner was visible and sometimes the teacher was required to force the learners arm down in order to receive a shock upon a wrong answer.
The results of this experiment were extremely disturbing. On the good side, there was a test subject who when told to apply the electric shock after hearing distress from the learner crossed his arms and refused. I don’t recall the exact quote, but it was something like, “You can keep your money, I’m not going to do this.” This is an example of someone who is strong. And then there was the test subject who kept applying the shocks up the scale even when the learner started to complain of chest pains and then eventually didn’t respond at all. The man giving the shocks was reluctant, but when the experimenter offered to take full responsibility, the man acting as the teacher continued administering the punishment. At the end of the initial experiment, 26 out of 40 experiment participants applied the maximum voltage of 450-volts. The voltage shocks were not real, but the participants had no way of knowing this.
(About.com: Psychology, The Milgram Obedience Experiment, http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/milgram.htm)
So how would you have done in this experiment? Would you go all the way up the scale, or would you have refused early on to apply an electric shock to another human being? Are you weak or are you strong? Everyday people are pressured into doing things they know are wrong, and that they will regret for the rest of their lives. Evil does not require a large membership. A few evil doers and a bunch of sheep is all that’s required to perform unspeakable acts of evil. Be strong.
Generous and Selfish
The best example of generous and selfish is the character Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Before visited by three spirits, Mr. Scrooge is as selfish as they come. He has plenty of money but hordes it. He won’t even buy extra comforts for himself, let alone give to others who are in need. Why is this? Does he not recognize his own mortality? Does he not realize the only path this leads to is dying with a whole lot of money that would then go somewhere else anyway? There is something that joins with Ebenezer’s selfishness and that is misery. He seems to hate everyone including himself. He is alone and unhappy. Not only is he selfish with his money, he is selfish with his hospitality and friendship and love.
So is being selfish an evil trait? I would not say selfishness necessarily promotes evil, it just doesn’t promote good. If we think about part of being good involving the promotion of happiness in ourselves and others; selfishness certainly doesn’t do that. Selfishness should not be mistaken for cheap. Many people are generous with hospitality, friendship and love, but when it comes to money, they are tight fisted. This could be due to economic conditions. Many who lived through the depression are tight with money as the memory of barely scraping by when they had nothing is still strong. Many are generous with food, which is often an expression of love.
So what happens after the spirits visit Scrooge, and he realizes that he’s not dead and has a chance for redemption? He experiences the greatest joy he’s ever imagined. He becomes generous with his hospitality, friendship, love and his money. He spends a great deal of money on charity and the happiness of the people around him. He changes the fate of a lame boy who would have died without his help. He becomes an inspirational figure to his community. Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed from one who is miserable and alone to one who is happy and surrounded by people who love him.
This is a fictional character but many people are like the Scrooge before the transformation and the Scrooge after. Think about the selfish people you know. Are they happy? Think about the generous people you know. Are they happy? Overwhelmingly generous people are happier, and you don’t need money to be generous. Often the most valuable thing we have is our time. Think about the elderly people who love you or did love you when they were living. They didn’t want your money; they wanted your time, which brought them great happiness. Be generous.
Aware and Ignorant
We cannot fight evil if we are ignorant of where and when it is happening. The example I will give of awareness and ignorance, in regard to good and evil, is in the community. Aware means being aware of our surroundings and spending some time to keep up to date with what’s happening in our community and in the world. Before television, there were many more front porches. People would hang out on their front porches and say hello to everyone who walked by. They would also keep an eye out on the neighborhood.
Many people today don’t leave their homes much. They are in front of televisions and computers most of the time. They are not aware of bad elements that may be entering their neighborhood. They don’t know who their neighbors are. They live in isolation. As a result they are less in a position to look out for their neighbors and themselves. They are ignorant of their surroundings.
Spend some time saying hello to your neighbors. Attend neighborhood activities such as parties or association meetings. Get involved with community activities. Check out volunteer programs. Understand what threats and challenges are facing your neighborhood. Get information on illegal activity from your local police department. Getting a dog can help you meet neighbors and keep an eye on the neighborhood during dog walks. Often people who are aggressive about knowing what’s going on are labeled busy bodies. A few busy bodies in a neighborhood are actually a very good thing. Be aware.
Humble and Arrogant
“I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you. If I do well, help me; and if I do wrong, set me right. Sincere regard for truth.” – Abu Bakr (573-634)
Extreme arrogance is an evil trait and has done great wrong in this world since the beginning of civilization. Not only is it used to self-promote but also to tear down other groups of people. Somewhere and somehow it became hip to put down those in so called unskilled labor. Somehow it became hip to put down people who work in fast food restaurants. By far, the people who make arrogant statements about the millions and millions of people across the world in the food industry wouldn’t last 5 minutes behind the grill or behind the register during the lunch time rush.
Every job requires training and every worker who puts in an honest day’s work deserves respect. Many people in the low skilled market such as assembly line workers are using the opportunity as a stepping stone to higher paying jobs. They may be in a circumstance where money is needed to support themselves or their family while they try to take some night classes in order to move up in the job market.
We do have people who enjoy working on the assembly line and other jobs that may not pay that well which is great as we need people to do that work. Not everyone wants to join the rat race, and that’s fine as there is more room near the bottom of the ladder than there is at the top. The people who move up the ladder trade off more money for more responsibility and stress. Moving up the ladder may lead to nicer cars and bigger televisions, but by no means does it directly correspond to a happier life.
Arrogance is directly tied to ignorance and intolerance of people and ideas. When somebody thinks they know everything, they will not seek or accept knowledge or wisdom. Politicians who are arrogant will marginalize rather than respectfully address opposing points of views. Arrogant business leaders are not interested in hearing anyone else’s opinion.
In the television series’ Kitchen Nightmares, Chef Gordon Ramsay saves restaurants that are about to go under. The restaurant owners are often the chefs in the smaller establishments. You would think an owner would be humble having a successful mentor such as Mr. Ramsay help them save their restaurant, and thereby saving their family and everyone who works for them from financial ruin. Surprisingly, in many cases the owners are arrogant. With only a short period of time to turn the restaurant around, what technique does Gordon use to make the owner successful?
Chef Gordon Ramsay does not have a reputation for being a nice guy. The first thing he does when beginning the process of turning a restaurant around is to brutally humiliate the owner. He basically tells the owner he stinks, his food stinks and his restaurant stinks. Does Mr. Ramsay do this because he wishes to harm? The answer is no. One of the reasons for this approach is to entice passion from the owner. Get them to fight hard and work hard. The other necessity of this approach is that the arrogance of the owner needs to be purged. The owners will not learn if they believe themselves to be better than Chef Gordon Ramsay. The owners will not learn if they think of themselves as already possessing all the knowledge and wisdom necessary to run a successful business.
The humiliation the owner receives from Mr. Ramsay is proportionate to their own arrogance. The more arrogance, the more humiliation is administered. It is only after the arrogance is removed or at least diminished, that Gordon is able to build them back up and mentor these owners in what they need to do in order to be successful, and save their establishments. The method he uses for training restaurant owners and chefs is similar to the way soldiers are trained in boot camp. Drill Sergeants do not have a reputation for being nice either.
“Many people might have attained wisdom had they not assumed they already had it.” – Unknown Source
Arrogance should not be confused with confidence. To be confident simply means you are prepared for a challenge and expect yourself to do well. You might expect to beat people in a competition not because you are superior to them, but simply better skilled and better prepared for the specific challenge. We are all human with our own strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to remember that just because someone is great at something does not mean they are great at everything.
I remember a news segment on Bill Wennington’s hamburger recipe. Bill was a center for the Chicago Bulls during the late 1990s championship years with basketball great, Michael Jordan. A news reporter asked Bill if he was asserting that his hamburgers were better than Michael Jordan’s. Bill responded stating Michael was a better basketball player than he was, but that didn’t mean Michael was better at everything.
A lesson in humility is taught in the ancient story “The Monk and the Samurai.” This story was retold by John Porcino and the following is a portion.
"That, my son, is the gate to hell." Realizing that the monk had risked his life to teach this lesson, the samurai slowly lowered his sword and put it back into the sheath. He bowed low to the monk in thanks for this teaching.
"My friend," said the monk, "That is the gate to heaven."
(Storytelling in Pursuit of Peace and Reconciliation, http://www.healingstory.org/stories/peace-stories.html)
Socrates was humble in admission of his own ignorance. When business leaders are humble they are open to better ideas and solutions. When politicians are humble the country is less polarized and divided. Be humble.
Courage and Cowardice
“A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.
Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life. Do not be concerned with escaping safely - lay your life before him.” – Bruce Lee (1940-1973)
Most people are not as courageous as the legendary Bruce Lee; however, often having courage is about having someone’s back rather than being in the front lines of confrontation. When someone does wrong, often it becomes the responsibility of another to make it right. This takes courage, but may also take diplomacy. Many people are intimidated by confrontation, but they will rise to the challenge if necessary.
Courage can involve standing up to bullies or rising up to extraordinary challenges. Courage is often associated with our military personnel and police officers. Socrates showed courage by challenging the wisdom of powerful men. The passengers of United Flight 93 on 9/11/2001 showed courage. They tried to overtake the terrorists who had hijacked their plane. The plane crashed without carrying out the terrorist’s mission. Let’s not forget the courageous heroes of Flight 93 and the many others like them.
What would you do if someone unjustly insulted your friend in public? What would you do if someone physically assaulted your friend or a stranger in public? What would you do if you were assaulted? Often we suffer when someone’s cowardice allows evil to survive and continue unchecked. People who don’t report or act on wrong doings have responsibility when that same wrong doing is allowed to continue and victimize others. Have courage.
“To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.” – Confucius (551-479B.C.)
Tolerant and Intolerant
• “I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.” – Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
• “The highest result of education is tolerance.” – Helen Keller (1880-1968)
• “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1782
First off, I wanted to state there are always exceptions to the rule. Socrates would often demand absolute definitions as in what something is always. I would argue with Socrates that few things are “always” something certain as there are always exceptions to the rule. In general, men are physically stronger than women. Are there strong women who are stronger than many men? Absolutely, but this is an exception rather than the general rule.
When analyzing tolerance, the focus is not tolerating evil, but tolerance as it relates to diverse individuals and groups of people. Tolerance is required for all people to have equal rights. Good comes in all races, nationalities, religions, sexes, ages, IQs, incomes, heights, widths, hair styles, etc. Tolerance becomes strong when diverse people come together for a common goal or good. Tolerance is a characteristic of an advanced society. When taking an agnostic approach to gaining knowledge about people of different backgrounds and nationalities it’s amazing how much we all have in common.
It’s important to learn about different cultures and people. We are fortunate to have television series today that explore food and culture of people all across the world. Weather, food and shelter are things we all have in common. The generous hospitality the hosts on networks such as the Travel Channel and the Food Network receive when in other countries is truly amazing. These experiences promote tolerance.
Cruel intolerance is a byproduct of ignorance. In this world, we still have a few primitive intolerant countries. The leaders of these countries desperately cling to barbaric past rituals and beliefs, which lead to despicable acts such as the extreme suppression of women, and the deaths of homosexuals. Their brutality is a result of arrogance and hate rather than any religious doctrine. They often pervert their own religion to serve their own self interests, and are oppressively intolerant of social progress or modern thinking.
In my own life, I have become tolerant of religions that are intolerant of my own beliefs. This is not to say I’ve never engaged in heated religious debates, or that the intolerance didn’t bother me. In the spirit of Lao Tzu, I have become tolerant of intolerant religious beliefs, thus religious tolerance is attained. I cannot achieve what I desire to achieve by attacking religion. I cannot expect religious people to be tolerant of my beliefs if I am intolerant of theirs.
Sun Tzu in the Art of War taught not to besiege walled cities as too much time and resources will be expended, and one’s weapons will become dull. Arguing with religious people that they shouldn’t be religious is akin to besieging a walled city. In this case, the weapons don’t get dull, the conversations do. Those who are devout in their faith will not abandon their beliefs no matter what argument is presented. For the religious people that are good, as the vast majority of people are, I have learned to accept them as they are; not how I think they should be. I have accepted them for how they think, not how I think they should think. And besides, as long as someone is good, whatever religion they affiliate with, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. Be tolerant.
Kindness and Wickedness
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness is thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu (6th century B.C.)
When I was young, I spent a lot of time riding my bike. Once I became desperately lost, and it was getting late and getting dark. As cell phones hadn’t been invented yet, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get back home. I asked a man for help, and he stopped everything he was doing to help me. He found a map to get directions, put my bike in his car and took me home. Most people are kind and kind acts happen every day.
For the most part, kind acts don’t make the news. If the man who had helped me had been wicked, instead of kind, if he had abducted, assaulted or killed me instead of helping me; that would have made the news. There are over 300 million people in America and approx. 6 billion people in the world. The news is filled with the wicked people who do the most despicable acts.
The constant onslaught of bad news can be depressing, and cause families to raise their children in fear rather than faith. A constant barrage of despicable acts in the media promotes isolation. It’s important to remember and have faith that the vast majority of people are kind. Kindness does not catch media attention day by day but does become newsworthy in the face of tragedies. People come together when disaster strikes to give time and money to strangers in need. Be kind.
Contentment and Greed
“Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind.” – Prophet Muhammad
Some people will never have enough. When asked the question how much more do you need the answer will always be just a little more. Recently there was a billionaire caught for insider trading. Although a billionaire, this person was involved with petty deceitful tactics to make a few thousand dollars more. These days there is a lot of talk about living beyond one’s means due to the recent housing and economic downturn. There is a big difference between someone living beyond their means in a 1,000 sq. ft. house, and someone living beyond their means in a 10,000 sq. ft. house. There is a big difference between someone living beyond their means to have a home that is less than an hour away from their job, and someone living beyond their means to have an expensive vacation home they visit once or twice per year.
After an economic downturn, many of the people who lived lavishly regret not spending their money more wisely. On the flip side, many times people regret not taking a vacation when they had the chance. I knew a man who was married to the love of his life for 10 years. They never went on vacation and just kept trying to save money. His wife became ill and passed away. He now regrets being frugal those many years. The people who can never have enough will never be happy. The people who are content with what they have are happy. It’s nice to buy nice things, but it’s also nice to be financially secure. Finding the right balance takes wisdom. Of course there are many things in this world that money cannot buy that can make one content.
We must recognize the over-the-top greedy people who will never have enough and do what we can to keep them out of high government and business positions. One who cannot handle their own finances has no business in a high government position handling enormous budgets of taxpayer dollars. Someone who is extremely greedy is also far more corruptible. There can be extreme greed and there can be extreme contentment. I believe that making money and spending money on goods and services in a strong economic capitalistic society is a great way to live. Just don’t spend too much money if you can help it. A little greed can be good, but ultimately it is contentment that we should strive for, as that will lead to a happier life. Be content.
Respectful and Condescending
Everyone wants respect. Many people wrongly believe that wealthy people and celebrities don’t care about respect. When insulted, they just laugh all the way to the bank. This is not true. We are all human and all hurt when not treated with a certain level of respect. When someone who is blatantly disrespected claims that they don’t care, or it doesn’t matter, it’s not true. It does matter, and it matters a lot.
Everyone should be treated with respect initially. Confucius taught that one should have respect for elders and believed in a structure of respect in society for men, women and children. There are those who are condescending and disrespectful towards others. Often this is due to insecurity. They need to be condescending to others in order to feel better about themselves.
My father was intimidated by people with college degrees. I never have been and never understood this. There are many educated idiots in this world. My business has taken me to major corporations all across the US. I’ve worked with many people with college degrees. Some people with certain degrees from certain colleges I have found to be extremely condescending. They make disparaging remarks towards others. You never know what people like this are saying about you when your back is turned.
“The less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice.” – Clint Eastwood
Confidence and Jealousy
“The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his chest.” – Roseanne Barr
Ptolemy of Mauretania was son to Anthony and Cleopatra. The Roman emperor Caligula invited him to Rome. Upon arrival Ptolemy wore a beautiful custom made purple cloak. Caligula was jealous of this purple cloak and had Ptolemy murdered so that he could have it.
The Greek Goddess Hera was the wife of Zeus. She was extremely jealous of his infidelities. She cast cruel punishment on the other women and their children. It was Hera who sent two serpents to kill Hercules, who was born from Zeus’s affair with Alcmene.
Jealousy has the ability to do great harm. It can bring out the worst in people. Jealousy happens when someone wants something someone else has. Jealousy is most intense when it comes to affection rather than something physical like a diamond. It’s more potent when in regard to people, not things. Someone jealous of another's spouse is more dangerous than someone jealous of another’s car.
Jealousy is directly related to insecurity of oneself. If one is confident then one is not jealous. When we know someone who has more than we, are we jealous? Of course we should know what more means. Does it mean more money, better looks, a better job, or nicer car? Does it mean they are with someone we want to be with? When faced with jealously believe in karma, contentment and confidence. Be confident.
Integrity and Dishonesty
Quality in business needs to be an obsession. One mistake in quality can lead to a lost customer for life. Many car companies today are still suffering from bad quality experienced decades ago. People have long memories when they feel that they’ve been cheated. One can have a hamburger every day for years. One day they get a bad burger and the next day they’re eating subs.
The word for quality in people is integrity. When someone has high integrity it means they are reliable to do the right thing every time. When someone is dishonest they can’t be trusted. The people entrusted to have the highest level of integrity are people in public office. These people are expected to be the pillars of the community. Their reliability, professionalism and ethics are to be a standard for businesses and the public. When people in high public office and corporate positions are dishonest it sets a bad example for everyone. It is a betrayal of the common trust.
Be obsessed with maintaining your own integrity. Be the rock your family, coworkers and community can always rely on. Be the moral compass. Be the pillar.
Patience and Impatience
A man incessantly honks his horn as the car in front of him won’t move. He then contemplates swerving around this car in front of him and sticking his middle finger out the window. Just then he sees a child crossing in front of the car. This car was waiting for the child to cross. Many people have died on the road because of impatience. Speeding and tailgating have caused many accidents. When I was young, I often engaged in these dangerous practices. Fortunately it didn’t take a tragic accident for me to change my ways. Often we become more patient as we get older.
Impatience is related to intolerance of other people; intolerance of the older driver not going one mile above the speed limit; intolerance of the screaming child in the grocery store. When people get older they often become more patient because of experience. When someone has one of those screaming children in the grocery store, they become more patient and tolerant of others who have a screaming child. Impatience can lead to lack of learning. Often in order to learn, we need to have the patience to research and fully understand a problem, and solution.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” -- Unknown Source
Does the definition of someone good mean someone with good characteristics? Does the definition of someone evil mean someone with evil or bad characteristics? We should all strive to have good character, but ultimately it is actions that dictate who someone is. Someone who does good is good, and someone who does evil is evil. This is my bias, and other philosophers or religious leaders might disagree stating evil must not exist in the heart or the actions. Philosophers such as Aristotle appear to agree with me. “Every rascal is not a thief, but every thief is a rascal.” – Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
This is a quote from the Prophet Muhammad, “'Who is the best man?' Muhammad replied, 'He is the best man whose life is long and whose actions are good.' 'Then who is the worst man?' 'He whose life is long and whose actions are bad.” – Prophet Muhammad
Religions differ on ways of explaining and addressing good and evil but one thing is clear, good and evil are recognized and do exist. Are good and evil normal occurrences in nature? These are natural occurrences in evolutions’ survival of the fittest perhaps? If life is designed and created, why did the creation include both good and evil?
“Feed the hungry and visit a sick person, and free the captive, if he be unjustly confined. Assist any person oppressed, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.” – Prophet Muhammad
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
The Worst of Evil:
• Butchering unarmed men, women and children
• Destroying history
• Convicting innocent people and sentencing them to pain and death
• Taking a widows’ land by accusing her of being a witch and having her burned at the stake.
• Purposely spreading disease to innocent people by giving them infected blankets and clothing
• Using people like property
• Forcing people to live in fear
• Oppressing women and minorities
• Torturing and murdering people for having different beliefs
• Torturing and murdering animals for personal amusement or gain
• Torturing and recklessly murdering people in the name of religion or country
• Stealing retirement and savings from dedicated workers
• Denying opportunity to others that one had himself
The Best of Good:
• Protecting unarmed men, women and children
• Preserving history
• Protecting all people from unjust trial and punishment
• Protecting people from cruel laws and customs
• Curing disease
• Maintaining justice over injustice
• Banning slavery and fighting human trafficking
• Allowing people to live free and in peace
• Protecting women and children from sexual predators
• Promoting equal rights
• Tolerance of different beliefs
• Protecting animals from those who would hurt them for amusement or personal gain
• Helping people in the name of religion or country
• Protecting the savings and retirement of workers from corporate thieves and fools
• Grant, promote and expand the opportunities of your generation to the next generation
My intent in writing this is not to attack religion, but that does not mean I will not criticize. In order to be honest and true to myself and do right by you, I feel the need to address religious verses that are evil in this chapter on the struggle of good and evil. In Western religious text, there is unspeakable cruelty justified and cast on those who have committed adultery, those who are homosexual, those of other beliefs and those who criticize God or dare to leave the religion.
I understand that religious people who are good will come up with reasons on why these verses should not be followed or no longer apply. There are also verses that imply tolerance, love and mercy which are the scriptures that should be followed. It would be dishonest to pretend that evil verses do not exist and have not done great harm. I believe that verses promoting hate should be removed by a gathering or religious leaders inspired by God to correct the mistakes of the past.
This is a chapter from Agnosticism: The Battle against Shameless Ignorance
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