Good and evil....
Ever since I was young, I was always taught that if you do good things, good things will happen to you. As the old adage goes, “As you sow so shall you reap”.
For years I have tried my best to live by this philosophy, always trying to do the right thing and at the same time being wary of fate’s retribution should I stray for even a moment from the straight and proper, destiny’s payback, or what we often refer to as karma.
It is ironic though, that despite my efforts to avoid doing the wrong thing, success, or at least my personal visions of it, has been somewhat elusive.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had a lot of blessings through the years for which I am grateful. I’m reasonably well-educated, I have what qualifies to most as a well paying job, I get to pay all of the bills and still have a little left over, I have a happy and healthy son who’s doing well in school, I have my parents and siblings, and I have my health, despite occasional bouts of hypochondria.
But like everyone else, I tend to notice the things that are absent in my life, the same way you notice a missing piece in a huge jigsaw puzzle. You may have all the other pieces, but somehow, it doesn’t take away the fact that there’s still a gaping hole somewhere in the picture.
And I have lots of holes. Okay, maybe not that many if you really think about it, but if you’ve ever spent time solving a jigsaw puzzle, you soon realize that even a single missing piece is enough to ruin the experience.
I won’t go through the details of each and every one, lest I come across as an insatiable and thankless ingrate for the things that I do have that many other people don’t, but sometimes, in the back of my mind, I ask myself what it is I have done to deserve the absence of certain pieces in my jigsaw puzzle.
I’m well aware that I am not perfect, that I have screwed up a lot of things in my life, and made a lot of bad decisions, but then again, all of us have, at one time or another. What lifts me up though, is the realization that despite everything that has happened, both good and bad, I have, at least in my own estimation, remained "good", and have for the most part avoided doing anything truly "evil". Of course, this is all relative, since what is good for one may be considered evil by another. The point is, I have tried to remain true to myself, avoided as much as possible the prospect of deliberately causing pain or harm to other people, and refrained from activities which would grant me opportunities for gain at the expense of other people. At the end of the day though, I really don’t have much to show for it except for the altruistic sense of satisfaction that I haven’t turned to the dark side.
But in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?
I have seen people get ahead in life by stepping over anyone and everyone who get in their way. I have seen people resort to all sorts of dirty tactics in order to get what they want. I have seen people cheat and lie their way to success. No doubt you’ve seen your share of such people as well. We often console ourselves with the thought that someday, karma will catch up with them, but other than the rules we have imposed on ourselves by virtue of human laws, morality, religion, or some other abstract sentimentality, there doesn’t seem to be any natural precept which punishes anyone or anything for being “evil”. Speaking purely from a natural sense, nothing in nature is truly “evil” or truly “good”. It just is. “Good” and “evil” can be considered nothing more than labels which we have adhered to things in our realms of existence in an attempt to anthromorphize and rationalize everything we see around us.
A lion eating a deer is no more or less evil than say, a deer eating grass, or arguably, a hunter shooting down a lion (despite the fact that it may be illegal if it’s in a protected wilderness area). It’s just the way things are. Nature is a cycle, and every living thing no matter how big or small is part of that cycle. Then there's Darwin's theory of evolution. Weak things give way to stronger things. Survival of the fittest.
Perhaps it’s the same with our lives. Maybe nothing is truly evil. We just do whatever it is we need to do in order to get ahead. I don’t know. It may be true, but somehow, I am not really comfortable with that prospect. I’d like to think that as human beings, we are above the amorality of nature, that we have a sense of what is good, and what is not. That’s why we have advanced to the point of developing laws, philosophies, morals and religion, in order to reinforce our concepts and beliefs of what is right and wrong. We have to accept though, that there are some of us choose to ignore these rules and instead choose to do what is necessary to get ahead. Does that make them evil?
It really depends on your point of view.
And what you’re comfortable with.
Maybe, just maybe...I have to start doing what's necessary. Or at the very least find something else to do.