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Thursday, 3 October 2019

Good vs Evil

For centuries, there is a debate whether humans are (mostly) good or (mostly) evil (eg, IAI-2019, NRC-2019). The Stanford Prison Experiment suggested "that people unconsciously take on whatever role is expected of them in a given situation. Put kind and gentle people in positions of authority over others and many will inevitably become sadistic and abusive." (Quartz-2019).

Recently, I spoke with a friend about the above. We both feel that we have dark, hidden and locked rooms in the corners of our minds. I think, feel and believe that opening such rooms is our individual and personal choice. Some circumstances, like the Stanford Prison Experiment, will force us making decisions, while we have no clue what we will find in those rooms.

An alleged and probably misattributed quote of the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln states: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power." The Stanford Prison Experiment could be viewed as a test of the validity of that quote.

These dark, hidden and locked rooms in the corners of our minds make me wonder about the relevancy of the (digital) distinction between good and evil. I very much doubt that people are either good or evil. Probably, we all have the capability of being good and of being evil. The specific circumstances will be decisive for our choice between good and evil.

I think, feel and believe that we all choose the path that we walk on. A John O'Leary quote gives a similar view: "You can’t always choose the path you walk in life, but you can always choose the manner in which you walk it."

Perhaps, a sports analogy may clarify the above: I have made a conscious choice playing for Team Good. As usual in any sports game, the number of bystanders exceeds the number of players. These spectators might also be cheering for their favoured team. Nevertheless, I doubt they have made up their mind about joining their favourite team, when asked.

My sports analogy is no coincidence. Several ancient cultures believed in a multiverse, in which the gods (in their universe) play a game with humans (in our universe). A game of Good versus Evil. I have some sympathy for this view. Moreover, many people feel "being played" in life - for whatever reason. Perhaps, that notion is less far-fetched than we often assume.

Good and Evil are both paths in our life that we can choose to walk on. These paths intersect on various occasions. Team transfers can and will happen. I doubt that our destiny is ever final. The Chinese-Western horoscopes appear to define some 80% of our personality (my Zodiac blogs). The remaining 20% of "free will" may explain our (mostly) good or evil character.

Temptation (1983) by Heaven 17

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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