Tell me, who decides what is right and what is wrong? Indeed, where is the divide between so-called good and bad? If I was to draw a line and place a mark right in the middle, what would you place either side of the line?
Well lies, lies are bad. I had a discussion with someone and suggested that if a lie was told as an act of kindness and had no adverse consequences going forward, well then the lie was not bad. I’m a great fan of kindness. The person, motivated by religious beliefs, wouldn’t cede my point and held that lies are always wrong and therefore bad.
Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.
Stephen R Covey
So we immediately see that good and bad are subjective. Some would hold it’s always wrong to take a life but if that life is wearing a suicide vest and the taking of that single life will save 100’s of other lives, and what if they’re all children….?
We could debate this long into the evening and I think good wine, which is a necessity to empower evening conversation, would only fuel the debate. We still would not have an answer.
Somewhere between right and wrong there is a garden. I will meet you there.
Try another take on this. I draw the line again with a mark in the middle and ask you to place a temperature over the mark. This will be the point at which hot becomes cold. You can’t do it because hot and cold are relative and it’s all subjective. What you can say is this is warmer than that and I’m more comfortable at this temperature.
This brings me back to the quote that I’ve chosen to use on two successive letters, so you can tell how much it’s made me think. Indeed I have turned it over and over in my thoughts. I believe that what it is trying to say is, things just are. Hot, cold, how ever we label it heat just is, in all it’s manifestations at different temperatures, it remains just heat. The only way it has meaning is if I attach a meaning by making an evaluation and that will arise from my personal circumstance and experience. Say I had lived in the Sahara for a year, then the English summer would not appear hot to me. You, on the other hand have lived in the Artic Circle and… well you see.
As with all things, even as I write I’m finding exceptions to the rule. Did you ever read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Here Stevenson created characters of two extremes and maybe left out the middle ground. It is easy to make the division because Stevenson has poured all that is bad into one man and all that is good into the other and made the division for us. Each manifests characteristics in keeping with the two extremes of human behaviour. It’s like I took my line and only offer you the ends. Extremes of heat, hot and cold, the points where all people would agree.
The best exception I can think of is wet and dry. You fall in the river, you are wet, no debate. I suppose on the line we have “damp” but I’m thinking the line is a lot shorter.
This is all very difficult. But I still like the quote. I’ve given it a lot of thought. For me it resonates with something that I now believe to be an underlying principle of the universe. To view the world and not pass judgement or assert that I am correct based on my defining of a thing. That the Universe see everything without judgement. Could it be that there is a spectrum of “correctness” for every possible judgement?
Before I put my pen down I know I must address one more issue. I can hear the question rattling around your mind and waiting to escape. Let me try and frame it. Am I suggesting we should not act in the face of, what you would label, blatant evil? The serial killer, the child molester, the people committing genocide? Yes of course we should act and there exists a point at which things become so morally abhorrent to us as individuals and societies that, I am beginning to believe, there is no need, indeed no place, for evaluation. I think we are predisposed to know these occasions, built to realise and when that awareness in us is triggered by events, entering into evaluation would be a denial of our humanity. Almost an act of cowardice.
I said things just “are”.
So that ‘applies here and evaluation has no place. Call it evil and say it’s so far down the line, whatever. The point is, in that day you will know in your inner person. We’ve all been somewhere and known we shouldn’t be there. An awareness, a discomfort or even a physical reaction. In that moment of knowing don’t waiver.
It is said by some, I assume scientists of types, that immediately after 9/11, when the planes flew into the twin towers, the energy level around the world changed temporarily as there was a collective response. The thing is, we were all built to respond with shock and horror. This was done with no evaluation. 99% of us went to that place in our own beings. No judgement. No debate. No internal dialogue. We all knew.
Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.
So I want to suggest that we don’t waste our time measuring the “rightness” or the “wrongness” of something or someone but rather listen to ourselves. After all we both listen to the same Universe, to one God, to a single absolute.
How much life, how much time, effort, emotion, debate would we save if we could move from there?￼
Yours, suspending judgement,