Sunday, February 24, 2013

Good and Evil

Standing on evidence matters in morality no less than for science. If one observes that the consequences of one's beliefs and practices create suffering and hardship for others--those beliefs and practices must change. Those who cling to the abstractions and hide from or rationalize the consequences, are wrong. Dead wrong. I can't for the moment think of an instance where this doesn't apply. No matter what you've been taught, what you've been brought up to believe--if you remain open to the real world consequences of those beliefs, have the capacity to empathize with those affected, you can change, you can become a better person. If there is such a thing as 'evil,' I would define it as a hardening of the heart, the refusal to exchange received notions and treasured beliefs, when evidence shows the suffering they will cause, if implemented. A person may be racist, misogynist, xenophobic--this in itself does not make them evil, if that is what they have been brought up to believe, if that has been their understanding of the world. But the first instance when they are confronted with evidence of the real suffering which those beliefs cause... if they do not begin at that moment, to change, to transform themselves... that is the beginning of evil. And with every denial, every hardening of the heart... they establish themselves ever further from the possibility of human redemption... that is... a place of justice and honor in the human community. Jacob the Elder

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