I believe that in every individual human and every group of us, there is a struggle between good and evil. The good is human happiness and the factors creating it. The evil is human suffering and the factors creating it. In every individual, I believe there are inborn influences and outside experiential influences for both good and evil. In the struggle between good and evil, there is no force making it fair, so it isn’t. Some individuals are born with a predisposition to be happy and some are born with a predisposition to be unhappy. No one chooses their parents or genetic predisposition to happiness or unhappiness. Nor does anyone choose how they are raised until it is probably too late to make a difference. Some people are full of evil through no fault of their own. Some are blessed with goodness for which they can be thankful, but they cannot take credit for it.
Once you reach choice-making age, if you choose to join the forces of good in the struggle against evil, you are doing the right thing, but don’t expect any reward except knowing you are doing the right thing. Doing the right thing, you may suffer mightily. It’s not fair, but that is the way it is. If you are creating human suffering under the influence of inborn brain wiring, the desire for revenge for abuse you suffered or some religion or ideology, you are my enemy. I am not out to make you suffer. I am only out to disable you from causing human suffering. I have never caused a person to suffer on purpose and I never will. I have millions of enemies and my ability to disable them is puny. I want to not waste what little ability I have. I want to be as shrewd as I can be in using it for the forces of good. I want to avoid battles I can only lose. Martyrdom would be a total waste.
If you live your life doing the right thing every day, if you have a disease that will take your life suddenly at any time, you can be ready with the knowledge that you did the best you could do. No one could fault you for failing to do more. With this knowledge, you have a right to feel good about yourself, to be happy yourself. If there was justice in the world, you would not suffer. If you suffer and in your suffering, you create suffering in others, like so many people, you are a source of evil. I have always tried to avoid suffering and with all my miserable failures at avoidance, I have tried my best to avoid creating any additional misery in the world. I have tremendous admiration for those who have made great achievements in the creation of human happiness. I am always on the lookout for small bits of wisdom from them about how to achieve more. I know I have achieved little. It is no one’s fault I have social and emotional intelligence quotients in negative numbers. I will pass on having made only a miniscule contribution to human happiness, but knowing every day between now and then that I did the little best I could.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.