Awhile back I wrote a post exploring the idea of whether or not human beings are fundamentally good or evil (https://jpierro21blog.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/humans-are-we-good-or-are-we-evil/). Now I think it is time to discuss exactly what evil is composed from and what lies at the root. A main component of evil is this idea of moral wrongdoing. Therefore, it is possible that the exact same act could be both good and evil. Violence used to save someone’s life could be considered good while violence used to kill someone and rob their home could be considered evil. This means that we have established that crimes cannot be considered evil independent of their creator. In other words, the end goal that a certain act is trying to accomplish must be judged as good or evil based on the moral beliefs of the one committing the act and not the act itself.
This means that the nature of evil is not universal. Evil is born at the individual level, and not all humans are evil. I myself would say that I have never done an evil thing in my entire life. I have made plenty of mistakes and poor decisions that have had negative consequences, but I have not committed an act that went directly against my fundamental moral belief system. Since everybody has different morals, you cannot say that one act is universally evil.
So far we have established that evil is tied directly to human morals and not an individual act, and that because of this acts of evil are not universal. If this is the nature of evil, then what lies at the root of evil that causes this moral wrongdoing? I would argue that it is emotions. Anger, hatred, jealousy, passion inspire a choice to do something that is evil. Moral beliefs are typically based on logic and not emotion. It is wrong to kill someone for personal gain because humans are created equal and therefore one does not have the right to take the life another that is doing no wrong. If you argue that morals are based on emotions, you just have to look deeper. We get angry and upset about murder because we know that it isn’t fair. The concept of fairness is based on logic and reason. This is just one example.
So emotions have the power to turn us against our moral belief systems that are based on reason. What is the source of these negative emotions that eventually inspire evil? Desire. We are all born with a desire in life because it gives us a direction. Desire is neither good nor evil, but can be led in either direction. A desire to become rich and famous can lead to positive emotions such as determination and happiness which can then lead to working hard and doing all the right things to eventually succeed. That same desire can also inspire negative emotions that lead to greed and hatred which can then lead to cheating and lying your way to becoming successful.
What leads to desire? There I am out of answers. We are simply born with the capacities to desire and experience emotions whether we are created by some higher being or just appeared as a species that way. So to summarize: Born with intellectual capacities–>desires/goals–>emotions inspired by journey to reach goals–>going against moral belief system–>committing acts that go against morals to reach goal = Evil.
Ultimately I guess I would say that we are not born good or evil. It is a choice that we have to make. We will always live in a world where there is a power struggle between good and evil, and can only hope that more people choose good.
Thanks to everyone who read this post. Please like the post, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.