|Augustine: Don't let evil into your heart|
He said the Evil in humans is only a lack of Good. Much like a wine glass is orderly and beautiful in its original intended state, when thrown against a wall it shatters. I love this analogy, because I think all humans are united by this single fact: they all want to be happy. In other words, all humans are born "good", and only become "evil" when their path to contentment has been blocked so completely that they have to resort to other measures to fulfill their needs. In this way, even a criminal can be viewed with compassion, as someone who lived a hard life and resorted to a life of crime only out of desperation. The Dalai Lama has a similar view on human nature.
Chimps: a Mirror on MankindNow, I recognize that this is perhaps a rosy view on things. Jane Goodel's shocking discoveries on chimpanzee behavior shows us that perhaps evil is inherent in humans after all--chimps are our closest living relatives. But, Jane also found that there is intimate and caring behavior, even altruistic behavior in chimp societies. It is a mirror on us all. So, in the end, I suppose it comes down to this: Like religion itself, the answer is somewhere in between. Humans are born with both egoistic and altruistic tendencies, both necessary for survival. The ego, which knows it must eat and take things to survive, when left unchecked results in acts that would violate others. This could be called our Evil nature. But we are also social animals, born with an innate desire to rely on others in our tribe or community to survive. And this necessitates charitable acts in order to maintain friendships and group harmony. This could be called our Good nature. Thus, we are born with both Good and Evil in us, combined with a Drive for Happiness. If that Drive for Happiness results in contentment, we end up as Good people. If that Drive is blocked by real hardship or illusions of what is really Good (such as accumulation of wealth for wealth's sake), than a person's Evil nature may surface.
In then end, its up to us, we are free to decide. And for someone like me who lives in a modern Western world of relative luxury, that choice should be easier than ever. But the reality is that instead the modern world is a confusing place full of many mixed messages, and what is taught to us as Good through television and society often turns out to be illusion. And that is why its more important than ever to understand the wisdom of the philosophers.
(to be cont.)