Thursday, August 4, 2022

A Little Light Goes A Long Way

The question, does evil exist, seems to creep back into our lives, as it has in years past.  There have always been those who do evil, but those evil acts seem to be on the rise.  This world has already seen its fair share of evildoers, and I think it’s fair to say that there will be much more to come.

What is evil?

Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, although in everyday usage it is often more narrowly used to talk about profound wickedness and against the common good. Wikipedia

In a similar sense, the definition between light and darkness has an interesting commonality. Each has in their definition a condition of absence, rather than simply being the opposite of the other.  

Both light and good have a definition, while their opposites, darkness, and evil exist simply by minimizing the power or influence of the other. For example, Darkness is the absence of light, and Evil is the absence of good.

In terms of this discussion, the cause of evil or that of good is somewhat irrelevant since all men (all women) may choose between, the infinite choices, that fall upon the spectrum of good and evil.  

Regardless of your affinity or aversion to religion, all of our choices create the pathways that are invariably paved with desires toward good or evil. Obviously, not so Black and White in most cases, but in making our choices, we set the foundations for the general hue of our lives.  

The choice is not always an easy right or left up or down decision. There are countless decisions that are made where the good or bad, the right or wrongs are impossible to ascertain at the time of the decision, but, again, generally speaking, the overall focus of those decisions can be understood, especially as we grow older and hopefully wiser.

I have often wondered where I am on that imaginary line between good and bad, understanding perhaps the need to make changes to the choices I had made, to alter my trajectory in order to balance my life and fine-tune my desire toward good works and forsake those actions that are questionable or not definable as good.

Most of us, I believe pursue a similar path, knowing that what we do, influences those around us. We want our children to do better. We want our houses to look nice, be safe and create a life that we are proud of, as opposed to the opposite of simply living and letting the chips fall where they may.

But, choosing to be good is not as easy as it sounds.  

If there is evil in the world, then how do we combat that evil? If evil is the absence of good, then all we need to do is to do more good. Again, not so easy perhaps, especially in today's environment where we are surrounded by not-so-good individuals, companies, and governments who seem to go out of their way to do us harm.

Marginal living is the practice of existing on the fence between good and evil, freely stepping from one side to the other, as it pleases us to do so. We are then not good, nor are we evil, just existing on the plane between, rationalizing our existence in order to maintain our manufactured opinion of ourselves.  

These are the people who close their blinds in the face of evil but do not engage against that evil. It is those who step over or go around avoiding the problem before them. We have all done this; I have done this, and I am ashamed to admit it, but I will probably do it again, being fearful of the situation, my age, or my lack of patients or ability to help as I rationalize my way through this life.

The question of what is good needs to be answered.

Good is:


 to be desired or approved of.
"a good quality of life"

 having the qualities required for a particular role.
"The schools here are good"


that which is morally right; righteousness.

"a mysterious balance of good and evil"

benefit or advantage to someone or something.

"he convinces his father to use his genius for the good of mankind"


In relation to this discussion, the noun is perhaps the best qualifier of what we should try to emulate, That which is morally right; righteousness.  


I fully understand the difficulties of pursuing a life of righteousness, having faltered so often I cannot recall those instances, and gratefully so, but I am convinced that, starting now, we can change our lives, we can adopt and new foundation and pursue that which is good, for the benefit of others and ourselves.  


If we do not make those changes, Evil will prevail. The quotes below are attributed to Edmund Burke, but as far as I can tell only the second one is his. They both, however, contribute to this discussion and our need to be actively engaged in good works.


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,”



 “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”



 “men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; “For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.

(D&C 58:27–28.)

We are free agents and can choose for ourselves. I think it's time for all of us to choose more carefully who we associate with, who we emulate, and understand that our choices have consequences. We cannot manage the affairs of others, but we can manage our own affairs, hoping what we choose to do will create a better future.

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