To believe that we live in a world where good is constantly battling evil is to believe we live in a world that lacks color. Such a cut-and-dry concept is the result of humanity's abandonment of a naturalistic society for a society powered by the human ego. With the emergence of religion, government, economy, humanity has been led to believe that good and evil exist separately, constantly clashing with each other in a centuries old rivalry. It is as if good and evil are two men competing for the love of a woman, both trying their hardest to convince her that they are a better choice than the other. Nevertheless, good and evil are not bitter rivals, but instead the best of friends, attached at the hip. There are pros and cons to every situation; however, what someone perceives to be a positive, another can see as a negative. The same can be said about good and evil, as both are complimentary parts, coexisting in all aspects of humanity, society, and the world.
Geography is destiny may hold true in areas that lack modern technology and knowledge in regards to methods for basic survival. First world countries have discovered simpler ways to overcome their natural environment due to an abundance and variety of resources. In such countries, geography does not determine destiny; instead society and culture are destiny. The evidence supporting such a concept is overwhelming. Murderous tyrants such as Hitler and Stalin used the beliefs of their societies to gain national support, enabling them to carry out their warped agendas, which ended with numerous cities destroyed and millions of people dead. The reason why America continues to lead the world in shooting-related murders is because of a society that is overflowing with violent images.
Those responsible for the heavy presence of violence are masters at focusing the eye of society on the subsequent by-products of the very problem they created. To blame violent video games and movies for violence in America is to blame Don Imus for racism. The real reason for our first place finish in gun-related murders is because of a media that paints a picture, which is abundant with shooting after shooting, barbaric act after barbaric act. It is one thing to watch a fictional character gun down thirty people, but to hear about a real person violently slaying other real people is bound to affect a person in a much more profound way. Suddenly, killing doesn't seem as wrong when we know there are those who will so easily kill us. We live in a kill or be killed society—metaphorically and literally speaking—or at least we are led to believe.
The power that societal beliefs have over those in a society is precisely why humanity is convinced there are two kinds of people: the wicked and the virtuous. And while shedding the misleading ideals of a society can be difficult—especially if one feels content with their society—it is not impossible. To label something as good or as evil is to short change our ability as a human to accurately analyze and assess. In short changing ourselves of the ability to properly assess a situation, we in turn are denying the very characteristic, which separates us from animals. Animals act on basic survival instincts, which label something as either harmless or harmful, therefore making the choice they have to make simple and quick. As evidenced throughout human history, nothing worthwhile is ever simple or quick. Oddly enough, it appears that the goal of modern humanity is to make everything simpler and faster—and what better way to achieve that goal then to limit the capability of our thinking? A wise man once said, "Everything is simple to a simple mind," and it is a given that everything is complex for a complex mind as there are more mental avenues to be traveled, for good or ill.
The Evil in the Good
There are certain elements of human society that are considered to be good, mainly for what they allow us to accomplish. However, in order to illustrate the yin-and-yang relationship between good and evil, it is only fitting to examine the evil or cons of what is commonly deemed to be good.
Automobiles are fantastic machines that allow us to travel further and in less time than their predecessors. Instead of months spent traveling across the country, we are capable of making the trip in only a few days by car and a few hours by plane. Visiting another continent no longer requires the nauseous and dangerous voyage of traveling by ship. The human capability to see more of the world before one dies has increased tenfold when compared to our ancient ancestors. This increased ability has allowed for more innovations and discoveries to be made in an uncountable amount of ways. However, there are just as many negative aspects of automobiles as there are positives.
The best known, "evil" side effect of automobiles is the pollution caused by exhaust fumes. Such fumes have worked to drastically change our atmosphere, and could potentially alter the earth's climate. Climate changes have happened before, causing many of the species existing during the time to vanish like Keyser Söze, never to be seen again. Pollution and climate change are not the only evils that come as a result of automobiles. Most of the world's largest oil supplies are located in some of the harshest and most hostile regions (e.g., the Middle East, Africa, and the frigidly cold areas such as Alaska and Canada—among others). With so much of the world's oil located in areas that are either politically unstable or harsh in terms of the environment (or both), harvesting oil can prove to be extremely difficult as well as incredibly expensive.
In fact, most of the negatives in regards to automobiles involve economic and physical dangers. Studies have shown that we will eventually run out of crude oil supplies as a result of growing populations and a larger demand for oil. Mass transportation is not a suitable alternative as it cannot effectively transport the entire population. While society is currently pursuing alternative fuels, which come from renewable resources, it is certain that they will also have negative effects. Ethanol, which is currently the leading alternative fuel, has recently been proven to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than its fumy rival gasoline. As a society we have become incredibly dependent on automobiles; so dependent that there is no turning back, no undoing of what has been done, but only the pursuit of doing it better. Nevertheless, better is a relative term, as what may seem better now could have devastating effects down the road.
Religion is a prime example of the concerns of the present affecting the society of the future. It is not unknown that times of turmoil have a tendency to bring new bodies to the pews. If the world was a peace-ridden utopia, free of all problems and conflict, religion would cease to exist. For that is the good characteristic of religion: it provides comfort and closure in times of uncertainty and impending doom. Religion has helped many people pull from the grips of dark and saddening places; providing peace of mind for those who struggled to find it prior to discovering their chosen religion. It has unified communities, composed of an assortment of people, bringing them together through the common belief that their actions are a service to their God. The power of religion has the ability to make a cop and drug dealer friends as a result of a similar taste in religious folklore. And it is precisely that power, which is responsible for the evil in religion. When a large mass of people are determined to accomplish whatever goal deemed necessary to the cause, the potential for chaos and disorder is extraordinarily high.
The Catholic Reformation along with the Crusades are only a couple instances out of hundreds that illustrate the danger of people who believe their actions are the will of God and divinely righteous. Currently, there are religious groups that are conditioning young children to take their religious beliefs and use them to alter society. In the Middle East the groups are training radical Islamic terrorists. In the United States they are training dedicated evangelical political activists who believe it is their duty to combine church and state in a "holy" union (rent the documentary, Jesus Camp). Both are similar in nature as they use deluded propaganda to brainwash children, robbing them of innocence and replacing it with misguided bile.
Another product that has been accepted with open arms, hands, and checkbooks is pharmaceuticals. Millions of Americans have a prescription to at least one pill or syrup, many of whom believe they need the medicine in order to function "normally". However, certain disorders, particularly ones related to depression, bi-polar, and anxiety, have been proven to be problems that can be resolved using the power of the mind—the walk-it-off/take-a-breather approach to curbing those sad feelings. Certainly, there are those who suffer more severely from depression/anxiety, but society is to blame for instilling ideals in people that require them to meet societal norms or risk being viewed as an outcast or a lesser person. Consequently, it is easy to look at the gunmen involved in school shootings such as Columbine and Virginia Tech and say that they are sick, but to admit it is the society that is sick and responsible for creating such heartless humans is a whole other animal entirely. A recent A&E special, A Killer on Campus, made it painstakingly clear that those who decide to go on shooting rampages felt as if they did not belong to society as a result of bullying and social isolation.
The difference between those who kill out of depression and those who choose to medicate themselves is essentially, the choice of pills over bullets as a means to cope with an illness that is the direct result of the type of society in which we live: a society that promotes medications for pseudo-disorders in a sick attempt to gain fluid capital. SSRIs or anti-depressant drugs have created new problems for those seeking resolution for their downtrodden feelings. Many have reported feeling strange and uneasy once they started taking the pills, others have shown changes in their personality, and some have said that the pills "normalized" them. Nevertheless, people who continue to take their prescribed anti-depressants are not doing so to alleviate depression, but instead, are trying to chemically "balance" themselves in order to adapt to societal norms as a means to fit in.
It is not uncommon for most of the people receiving SSRIs to be between the ages of 13-19 as the teen years are often filled with a prodigious amount of anxiety, stress, and doubt. And by making it socially acceptable to medicate the youth (as well as adults) for illnesses that are not legitimate disorders, not only perpetuates false beliefs throughout society, but further cripples it. Some common side effects of SSRIs as noted on http://www.antidepressantadversereactions.com are: suicide, extreme agitation, hostility and aggression, increased depression, severe withdrawal reactions, liver problems and failure, convulsions, hallucinations, agitation, anxiety, psychosis, mania, and cardiac and lung birth defects. Currently, SSRIs bring in billions of dollars a year and are the most common pharmaceuticals prescribed throughout the US.
The second and third place finishers are painkillers and attention deficit medications. Painkillers have shown physically addictive properties equilvalent to heroin as most are opiate-based pills. In turn, they have risen through the ranks of favored recreational drugs, as they are easy to get a prescription for with a little dedication and friends who won't mind knocking out some of your teeth—hell, a fake back problem can work with some convincing acting. ADD and ADHD medications are similar to SSRIs in the sense that they are medications created for disorders that are bred by society rather than an actual chemical imbalance in the brain. If we look back only fifty years it is hard not to notice that depression and ADD were non-existent problems. We have become too sensitive, and it is showing in the way children are coddled, causing them to be deprived of any reality. Any observation of television programming, video games and movies is clear indication of a society that has severely lowered its attention span. Everything must be made known sooner, faster, quicker, now, now, NOW!
Nevertheless, pharmaceuticals are a widely accepted part of American society, where the pros are considered to outweigh the cons. But after examining the ill-gotten effects, it is clear that there is more of a balance than anything else. Again this all depends on how one wants to view the situation, but truthfully speaking, it is neither good nor evil but comprised of both. The situations involving automobiles and religion are also the same, as are many other products and ideals, which are commonly viewed as entirely positive in regards to their aftereffects. But to cater to the ADD generation, I will now move onto the main course of this essay: the exploration of the good in evil.
The Good in Evil
There are certain practices that, on the surface appear to be evil, wrong, and void of any positive effects. Strangely enough, upon closer examination it is obvious that something, which may seem to be pure evil or utterly bad, can actually be beneficial to humanity and society. Among the most common things deemed negative we have: drug use, murder/genocide, and plagues or natural disasters.
Drugs have been incredibly demonized in modern Western society, particularly in the United States. While there are obvious pitfalls involved with drugs—mainly the kind that are physically addictive such as heroin, cocaine, nicotine, and even sugar and caffeine—it is important to understand that drugs are not all bad. Surprisingly, some of the strongest drugs (in terms of effects), psychoactives, are actually the safest drugs in moderation.
The dosage required to bring about a fatal reaction is often far greater than the dose needed to achieve the desired effects.
Nevertheless, we as a society, hold an extremely deluded perspective in regards to drugs. A societal perspective that is the result of nearly a century's worth of irrational propaganda that equated heroin with marijuana. Amazingly, studies have shown that opium (the base for heroin and most pain killers) and nicotine are far more similar in regards to their addictive properties. Yet nicotine is one of the most commonly used drugs throughout the world, a billion dollar industry that has been the direct cause of death for more people than marijuana, LSD, psilocybin and DMT combined! Of course, these kind of scientific findings are suppressed as it would be bad for business, and that is essentially why our society is overtly hypocritical in the way we view drugs.
Drug education in our country is dishonest and does nothing to curb drug use among teens. It seems as if the goal of drug "education" is to instead create a mindset that will, over time, affirm many of the warped stereotypes that are preached to children on a regular basis. When a child is bombarded with the notion that heroin and marijuana are similar drugs it should not come as a surprise that most heroin junkies also smoke marijuana. Peer pressure can be a difficult thing to overcome, especially when a person sees that their friends can smoke pot and refrain from robbing liquor stores or sucking off drug dealers for a fix. Eventually that person will try it out of curiosity as we are a curious species, and will reach the conclusion that pot isn't as bad as they were led to believe.
Since it is also human nature to feel obligated to progress, move forward, and never settle at point B, the same curiosity can lead a person to other drugs. "Why if pot isn't what they say it is then heroin and cocaine probably aren't that bad either?" says the curious and misguided teen. Miseducation is a devastating and powerful force that is responsible for not only drug abuse, but racism, sexism, terrorism and all the ills that society can't seem to shake ourselves free of. Terrorists and racists are not the product of an honest education, but one that is filled with deluded messages that help to justify poor actions.
Abusus non tollit usum, an old Latin saying meaning, "Abuse is no argument against proper use." Such a saying is a grand example of why drug education in our country is shooting at the wrong target. Rather than trying to scare children away from drugs, we need to take a realist approach towards the prevention of drug abuse. Like curiosity and the constant desire to progress, the use of mind-altering substances is very much a part of human nature. It allows a person to view the world from a unique perspective that cannot be viewed in sobriety. From gaining a different perspective we can learn to approach situations with an open mind, and therefore, will be better equipped at assessing and solving problems. A fantastic book that explores the seemingly innate human desire to use mind-altering substances, Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna, should be a required reading in high schools and colleges throughout the United States and world.
Instead of trying to convince the youth that all drugs are evil and that it is best to avoid using them, drug education should focus on teaching responsible use. For instance, marijuana is something that should not be smoked all day, everyday but in moderation; similar to having a beer or two after a long day of work. Drugs, which are physically addictive, should not be compared to substances that have a minimal potential for physical addiction. Instead it should be made clear that they are certain drugs (e.g., heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, nicotine, etc.) that are not worth the risk and the monetary setback. An honest approach towards drug education is the best approach; however, we as a society have been sheltered from an honest perspective regarding drugs. It is up to us to reeducate ourselves and take the proper steps to eradicate drug abuse NOT proper use. Countries that have adopted a truthful mindset towards drugs have less cases of drug abuse and use of harder drugs. A good website that offers an objective look at drugs is Erowid (www.erowid.org), which bundles scientific evidence, user testimonies and current articles relating to drugs. Similar to sex education that promotes abstinence, drug education that carries a similar sentiment is guaranteed to fail horribly, and in fact, both already have.
Now it is time to get crazy, blow a few minds, and explain why the loss of hundreds, thousands, and millions of people has its benefits. While murder and shooting rampages do not produce the yield that instances of genocide and natural disasters produce, it is still necessary for the survival of the human species. The consensus at the time the Baby Boomers made their way onto the earth scene was a fear that the human population had grown too fast. Nevertheless, the current global population is like Shaq standing next to a midget when compared to the population explosion the Boomers were responsible for—and it continues to expand like a fat man on a diet of only McDonalds. Fortunately, nature (both human and environmental) has a way of handling the strain that comes as a result of an excessively large population.
In terms of human nature we have crazy bastards who feel they were sent to earth to cleanse it of its impurities. With Hitler it was any person who wasn't a blonde-haired, blue-eyed German. With Stalin it was any person that did not share similar ideals. Currently, terrorists are on a mission to destroy any establishment or society that does not adhere to their severely twisted ideology. Large numbers of people are killed in cold blood, and every year we celebrate the anniversary of their death with candles and ribbons. But as more years pass and new tragedies emerge, we forget about the old ones and life goes on. Once the people who grew up during World War II die off, memorial services for the Holocaust will slowly disappear. All of the generations who were around for 9/11 will die off, and the tragedies of their time will be remembered only in literature and cinema. As Vonnegut put it, "so it goes."
The all natural approach to a growing population is often a random and unpreventable event that puts our existence into perspective. Natural disasters are mysterious manifestations of nature's wrath, but as is the case with Global Warming, we are starting to learn that the species that inhabit the earth can often cause the earth to snap and drown a few thousand people. Nonetheless, the survival of humans and other species can only occur if there is some form of population regulation. A large quantity of lives lost whether it is the result of genocide, plague or natural disaster is vital to our prolonged existence. When the population is large it requires an increased use of resources, which will eventually cause the land to become overworked and in turn, useless. That is precisely why hunter/gatherer tribes moved from camp to camp. They would use whatever land they were settled on until it could no longer be used for sustenance. Then they would simply pick up and move to another area where the cycle would be repeated. However, with so many people living in the present day we are slowly running out of land to overuse. Large numbers of people must die in order to free up land as well as relieve some of the strain created by a population that is too big.
One method for stopping over population is to limit the amount of children families can produce. Considering the cost of a raising a child in this new and expensive age, such a law should be welcomed with open arms. By limiting the amount of new lives entering the world, where the life expectancy is nearly three times what it was two-hundred years ago, the need for the large-scale loss of life will dwindle. But until people stop popping out kids at an alarming rate, genocide, murder, widespread disease, and natural disasters are necessary "evils" that have their benefits like everything else.
Hopefully, you the reader, will no longer look at things as either good or bad, but instead will view the world with an eye and mind that understands good and evil exist together in all aspects of life and existence. After all, we do live in an oxy-moronic world, where everything is awesomely bad, beautifully ugly, and happily depraved. Let us all embrace an optimistically pessimistic way of life for good and ill.