Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is the thing about power...

Superpowers by David J. Schwartz

Right around Memorial Day, someone posted some "information" to a mailing list I belong to. I don't remember the exact content, but it was something meant to illustrate how pointlessly our government is spending the lives of our military personnel. This hit a nerve with many people on the list. To me, and others, it felt disrespectful. It could have been posted on any day that wasn't dedicated to those who have laid down their lives so that we have the luxury of being disrespectful.

I dislike the conflicts we are in as much as any bleeding heart liberal. I think we are in them for the wrong reasons. I think that as a country and a species, we refuse to look backwards to learn any lessons. I think that the elite always make the decision to go to war and the expendables in society fight them. Sometimes the elite join in the battle, but the rules are always different for them.

During the ensuing email discussion, the original poster brought up how our government got into the war in Iraq being all about politics...as if there has ever been a war that was NOT about politics. I don't care why you're going to war...land, religion, genocide...whether you're pro- or con-, it's political. That's not good, bad or indifferent in my book. Life is politics, but "politics" has taken on a nasty meaning.

Right after this, I came across this passage, and it was the most eloquent statement of my views I've seen.
    This is the thing about power, I think. To some people – those of us who have none – anyone who has it and uses it is a villain. To those who have it, anyone who tries to stop them from using it is a villain. Because we’re all the heroes of our own story, no matter what horrible things we might be doing.

    Sometimes people do terrible things with the best of intentions. I don’t think that makes them less guilty. But if you understand their reasons, you might find it more difficult to condemn them out of hand. You might find it more difficult to call them villains.

    On the other hand, sometimes people do terrible things with the absolute worst of intentions. But even there, I don’t think they’re supervillains. I think they’re just people.
I think I believe in evil, but I'm not sure I believe people are evil. Those that knew or knew of my ex-stepfather can probably attest that I've lived with evil. But is the person evil, or just the deeds? I don't know the answer to that, but even if people can be evil, I don't think there are very many of them. I think most everyone does what they believe is the right thing. They may qualify as lunatics or assholes or idiots or angels depending on who you ask...but they believe they're fighting the good fight. Anyway, I wanted to share.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not quite sure why you were 'thinking of me' a lot when you posted this, but thanks for sharing. Some thoughts:

"This is the thing about power, I think. To some people – those of us who have none – anyone who has it and uses it is a villain. To those who have it, anyone who tries to stop them from using it is a villain. Because we’re all the heroes of our own story, no matter what horrible things we might be doing."

Very true -- the vast majority of humanity is self-centered to the core, and unable to see from a perspective other than their own. I will always be grateful for my debate training, for enhancing my ability to see the other side... even when I disagree with it.

"I think I believe in evil, but I'm not sure I believe people are evil."

One reason I'm so confident in the Bible is that it accurately sums up the so-called "human condition." EVERYBODY at some point does something they KNOW is wrong, and will injure another, but yields a personal advantage. What we think of as a sliding scale of good/bad merely revolves around the scope and immediate consequences of those selfish, often impulsive acts.

Here's the thing I've come to believe: there is no such independent thing as "evil." Rather, there is an absence of God (who is defined by self-sacrificing love for others). You cannot create 'dark,' only an absence of light. You cannot create 'cold,' only an absence of heat. Where God is absent, there is evil: a perversion of things that were created good. It is a parasite, feeding on what should be good, but has been corrupted by selfish designs. True love, though -- Godly love -- drives out evil, just as light and heat cause dark and cold to vanish.

Just my humble two cents.

-- Don

Itty Bitty Crazy said...

There is no such thing as evil. Naming whole countries as The Axis of Evil is ridiculous. How can everyone in a country be evil? How can everyone in a country's ruling executive be evil?

The truth is that nothing is black and white.

We are all capable of evil, be it low grade (watch Revolutionary Road) or horrific (watch The Reader).

How many things would have to go catastrophically wrong in your life for you to do something bad? If someone attacked your loved one and you were able to, would you kill them?