Some people believe in good; the good of humanity, the good within all of us, the good of a higher power watching over and protecting us. These people live their lives doing good, praising others for doing good, and wishing good upon the less fortunate. They go to work, arriving early with a smile on their faces, maybe even clock out a little late to earn extra favour with their boss. They come home to their spouses and emit mild, but good-mannered, protestation to the atrocities, both minor and major, that they see on the news; the woman who lost her cat which turned out to have been hit by a truck and died, or the high school gym teacher who grew bored of watching the girls in the shower and one day followed a young girl home before beating, raping and killing her. Mostly, though, these people prefer to concentrate on all the good that life has to offer.
But what of evil? Any phenomenon that can influence humankind must have its reciprocal, capable of producing the exact opposite effect; without the pissed-off teen walking calmly into his school carrying a MAC-11 and proceeding to unleash a spray of bullets into the playground like a cat murderously marking its territory, you cannot have the concomitant coming together of local and national communities; raising money and awareness, and offering support to survivors and victims’ families. Even penicillin, with all the good it has brought to humanity, was first tested on soldiers during world war one, and was not available for public use, so that more of the wounded could be returned to the battlefield to kill. It seems that for every good thing that occurs, there is an associated evil. Like some utilitarian farce, there must always be sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Sure evil is a strong word, and the magnitude of each evil usually reflects the good that it accompanies; giving somebody a birthday present so that you might receive one in return, for example. Sometimes the evil doesn’t manage to break through to our world at all; it lingers hatefully beyond our perception waiting for an opportunity to show itself, an opportunity that may never arise. In these circumstances evil can loiter, accumulating gradually like a sentient ball of fur, so that when the occasion permits to manifest it can emerge from the shadows and affect us in the most destructive manner fathomable.
But most people believe in good, they go about their lives trying to do good, they choose to ignore – or perhaps are oblivious to - the evil that surrounds them, however small. They believe in good.
Good. For them.
My one exception to the rule