This I Believe

Spencer - Irmo/SC/29063, South Carolina
Entered on February 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

To Perceive…

Spencer B

Once, recently, a very peculiar question was asked of me. A male sixteen year old, stammering out his disbelief at my ideas, blurts “Why are you so evil?” At the time, I was taken aback, but by this time, I have organized my thoughts on the subject, and now it must be said. In truth, good and evil do not exist. The best definition of good is anything that increases the probability that the world will reach an ‘ultimate state of being’, whatever that might be, while evil is anything that decreases the probability of the world reaching this state. That being said, it is only one’s perspective, and one’s capacity for change that guides their views, and thus their lives, and thus, good and evil.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is a well renowned ‘evil’ person: Adolf Hitler. He is thus labeled for his hatred of Jews, and his intolerance for resistance to his will. But, if one examines his mind, they find that he did not see himself as killing ‘people’ per say. He saw himself cleansing the world of a disease, as if he was creating the next penicillin. So, was he ‘evil’ because he killed so many people, albeit for what he believed to be the greater good, the ‘ultimate state’ of the world? In fact, this example is one of many. There are, in fact, so many of these ‘mistaken perceptions’ that it has actually become a valid defense in court to state that at the time of the crime, one’s perspective was hopelessly flawed, and they are therefore not responsible (this is also known as the insanity defense).

And the flipside of this is one universally accepted as ‘good’: Martin Luther King Jr. It must be said, that though he was a great force in the equalization of this country, that he also stood much to gain from his actions. He worked for naught but personal gain, and for the gain of his people. In fact, his action may have detracted from the ‘ultimate state’ of the world that others believed possible. At worst, the man is evil because he fought the ‘ultimate state’ of so many others. So, is Martin Luther King Jr. so ‘good’ when all he did was act on the premise that he was being wronged? If that was merely the case, then it can be said that terrorists, believing themselves wronged, can attack the object of their contempt at will, and be declared ‘good’ for it.

The classification of good and evil is, in fact, so blurred by the judge of said distinctions that it is nigh impossible to determine what is right and what is wrong. (Citing recent events, Osama bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda, is hailed in the Middle East as a hero for championing their beliefs and fighting the American ‘tyranny’. In America, however, he is reviled as a demon, and an instrument of Hell itself.) Who is right and who is wrong? Who’s ‘ultimate state’ is the correct one? Good and Evil are impossible to define, excepting by one’s own view, one’s own belief in their ‘ultimate state’ of being. In short, Good and Evil are whatever you see the two to be, if you see them at all. Even now, as you read this, you are responding with a stimulus, either labeling this writing, and by extension, me, Good or Evil, a benefit, or an obstruction to your ‘ultimate state’.

There are countless examples of this in the world today as well. The kind preacher on the street corner, the drug addict in the ghetto, the school teacher in his classroom, the student interpreting his words, or even the casual reader at their computer. Evil or good? Benefactor or Detractor to the ‘ultimate state’? Who can truly say? After all, your champion of righteousness may in fact be the antithesis of all that is good to me. In truth, even if one claims that evil and good exist, they cannot deny that the concepts are subjective.