Is Evil Necessary?

Aug 30th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles, Uncategorized

Is ‘evil’ necessary to highlight ‘good’? In a week where my friends’ social media posts are making me stop and think, a friend posted this comment:

“If you had no ‘evil’, then you’d have no reference for ‘good’.”

I found myself disagreeing vehemently. Evil suggests something that is totally reprehensible. Actions that are so deeply heinous based on our society or culture, that we can’t even imagine why someone would want to behave this way. Of course, the idea of what evil is will change depending on which culture or society type one is observing, but generally, we can look at murder, abuse, rape, genocide, torture; these things are surely evil in that they serve no purpose and are done purely to cause pain and misery.

If this is the benchmark we are using to define what is ‘good’, let me say this: we’re doing it wrong. If someone thinks that because they’re not a murderer that they’re automatically a good person, I think this is way off the mark. I can understand why people look at a polarised view and think it is necessary. For example, we absolutely do need the night to appreciate the sun, or the moon. Light cannot exist without darkness, and vice versa. However, I absolutely believe that there is no such requirement for evil in order for there to be good.

You can be a good person without ever having witnessed evil. Do you know how I know this? I have kids and know kids who since they were very small, have reached out to comfort each other, or shared their toys, or offered food, or helped each other up. Surely these children have no concept of evil? Why would they? Evil is solely in the realms of the grownups, certainly. Obviously, these same kids have awful moments too, of not wanting to share, of being possessive and cruel even, but they quickly learn that kindness is normally returned with kindness. To me, it seems their natural inclination is towards goodness.

I would happily live in a world without violence, bigotry and other things I perceive as evil, and I would be no less inclined to be kind and compassionate towards my fellow humans. And I’m pretty sure most of the people I know would feel the same way. What about you? Do you think there’s such a thing as necessary evil? Or can ‘goodness’ exist without the polarising highlighter of evil?

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