Good Actions in the Battle Against Evil : What Can You Actually Do?

Warren Kinston 11. June 2012 11:00

Good action counts for a lot.  But once a person has the ideology of power fixed in their head, they can never feel safe enough. Goodness flies out the window. There is never enough power, never enough wealth.  It is not the imperative of greed, it is the imperative of survival.  Technology now allows us to survive without willful cruelty and domination, but that does not make sense to power-driven individuals.  They want the power and the glory.

So what do we do about the callous power-centred leaders of most countries whose desire for control and personal wealth is unrestrained?

That’s a trick question.

“We” never do anything. 

If “we” have any influence at all, it is to sustain and support the existing social system. “We” are responsible for those leaders … for the way they think, how they got into such positions, and why they stay there.  So the British “we” is responsible for UK atrocities not the PM and cabinet; the German “we” was responsible for Nazism in Germany not Hitler; the Russian “we” was responsible for gulags and genocides, not Stalin; the American people are responsible for decades of US military violence all over the world in the last half-century, not their Presidents.  Even if people do not know precisely what horrific behaviour their leaders will endorse, they put politicians into power knowing that they lie, bribe, cheat and conceal.  That is hardly a sound foundation for good choices and good actions.

The real question is what “I” can do—not what to instruct a hypothetical "we" over whom I have no control. 

A shocking recent US study showed subjects had a near total lack of empathy for another person who was suffering if their political affiliation was different.  In the study, no effort to help was expected, just some human sympathy.  It was lacking.  Totally.  That is the evil that needs to be fought, and there is no doubt that "I" can fight it.  It is up to me to be determined not to be like that.  I must recognize that I would like sympathy if I were suffering, and I should give sympathy to someone else who is suffering. Without sympathy how can any good action possibly follow?  The fact that another person is a Republican (or Democrat or Muslim or Jew or prisoner or addict) is irrelevant. The tendency within oneself to treat another inhumanly because he or she thinks differently, or to view others as a means, or as instruments, is certainly instinctive. But it can be resisted. It must be resisted if you want to battle against evil.

Does that mean you never dislike another person. Or never make a mistake.  And never cause harm.  Of course not.  Does viewing war as an abomination mean that you never support war or go to war?  Certainly not. Circumstances affect actions. 

If others are actively controlling you and stealing from you—as politicians have been orchestrating worldwide for decades—and you do nothing, you are either excessively timid or a fool.  Of course, it is difficult to know exactly what you should do once you face up to what is going on. But not facing up to your situation is like being a lamb led to the slaughter who ignores the plight of the other lambs.

Fortunately, the personal realm is far easier to manage than wider society. You can get to know yourself. You can have expectations of yourself. You can confront yourself. You can force yourself. You can temper your brutal or selfish instincts.  You can choose the greater good.  If you wish.

If everybody around you is using people, seeking to  dominate, interfering with freedom, reneging on  agreements, being unreasonable, taking advantage—then that is not good.  But your responsibility is not to use people, not to seek to control, not to interfere with freedom, to stick to your agreements, and not exploit.  You can only do that in relation to those with whom you personally deal, and where you are actually responsible and able to act freely.

If you act well, then others around may do likewise. If they do, then the circle of goodness widens. Ever so slowly society changes.  If those around do not do that, then bad luck. You were born 200 years, or perhaps 2000 years, too soon.  The culture is not yet ready for the quality of consciousness or degree of humaneness and decency that you wish it to possess.  You can’t force the evolution of consciousness anymore than you can force genetic evolution. 

You can only do your bit.
Believe it or not: that’s a lot.

And you have an advantage just now: it looks like we are in the midst of a new enlightenment.



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Warren Kinston is the creator of the THEE-Online website as an open forum for the further discovery and development of THEE. He writes this blog as an escape valve for the excitement and frustrations of the work. More info here.

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