This is season 1, episode 6 and today we’ll expand on our previous talk about true good and evil and how to read to road signs of life.
This is a great topic as these are very subjective terms. I implore you to stop the impulses you’ll feel to say “well, yeah…but…”. There are countless examples but I need only a few to get my point across.
“Evil” corporations and their greedy agendas
While working at Hard Rock Café, my brother told us that the restaurant donates every thanksgiving day, then again every Christmas approximately 1,500 meals to shelters around Orlando, Fl. Meals prepared fresh, that same day, carefully packed, with the purpose of being donated.
Every donation is a tax deduction.
Is fire evil because it burns?
Are animals that kill for sport evil? It’s rare to see a pet cat eat a bird they killed.
BREAKING NEWS: “Criminals” were arrested in public parks around Orlando, Fl. for feeding the homeless people; as it is illegal to do so in public parks. Maybe they were just looking for media attention.
Revolutionary for one side is the other side’s terrorist
History is written by the victor… no matter the means of getting to their victory
What was people’s definition of “evil” a hundred years ago is ok and widely accepted today (alcohol); what is “evil” today might very likely be ok tomorrow (marijuana).
I mentioned in a previous episode that true good and evil is rare; think Genghis Khan and Adolph Hitler as opposed to Mohandas Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Most other people in our daily lives fall in between and are categorized good or evil based on popular opinion (which is always subject to change); think Darth Vader and Chuck Norris or cheating exes and psychopathic killers. Dexter is a great show about a psychopathic killer… but he only killed criminals. Breaking Bad is a great show about a chemistry professor that uses his knowledge to make illegal drugs and work with cartels to sell… but he wanted to raise money for his family because he was soon dying of cancer.
So what does this have to do with self-awareness? Once you start understanding that the concept of good and evil should be rarely applied, you’ll see the world more objectively and it will be easier for you to achieve the hardest skill of all: forgiveness. In general, people throw around a lot of words without meaning. They know the dictionary’s definition of the word but it carries no emotion. Isn’t this what’s considered lying?
Communication is an art. To get rid of years of terrible conditioning takes time and effort and your desire to change has to come from within. I’ll leave the depths of this topic for another time.
In reality, don’t base your entire moral compass and judgments on the opinion of the masses because it will change direction as often as cattle and birds change directions. Instead, keep an open mind and go out there and enjoy life… so long as no current laws get broken (as they’re subject to change) and nobody gets hurt, explore the world, experience adventures, and have a blast with your life.
Here’s a short story I wrote a few years ago to adjust the concepts of good and evil.
The cheetah and the gazelle
Let us imagine for a moment, dream if you will, all the animals in the animal kingdom are wise and communicate with eachother in a language we understand. The fact is, all animals in the animal kingdom do communicate with eachother, just not as sophisticatedly as we do. They do so thru different means: color, scent, sound, and body language.
Fact: about 75% of what we communicate to eachother is body language, 20% is intent and 5% only is what comes out of your mouth. Also, contrary to us humans, all animals in the animal kingdom innately know their roll. This is instinct.
Long ago in the Savannah desert of South Africa there was a gazelle gracing in the pasture. The gazelle is an amazing creature; the evolution of nature has morphed the gazelle’s body to become faster and more aware of his surroundings than his ancestors since times immemorial.
His sight is fantastic and his eyes can see almost 180º each, his hooves have been shaped in a way in which he now practically runs on his toe bones for a bit of height, balance and agility. A bit of height equals longer strides and leaps of about 20 feet each; he can reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour.
Not too far from the gazelle was a cheetah, the gazelle’s nemesis and natural predator, moving stealthily thru the tall grass, slowly, calculating, quiet. The cheetah has also undergone nature’s transformation. The cheetah is the only feline in the animal kingdom whose claws don’t fully retract, for their function is to grip the earth like cleats on sports field shoes; his thin rib cage and small head provide the best natural aerodynamics on land; rotating hips and an absence of a collar bone allow him to have the agility necessary to be a formidable opponent. Weighing at about 125 lbs., the cheetah has held the world record for speed on land. He can reach a top speed of 75 miles per hour; his acceleration can be from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds. Though his jaws are not as strong as the lion’s or the hyena’s, his only significant weakness is stamina. A chase lasting any more than 15 seconds, and the cheetah may overheat and die of a heat stroke or a heart attack. Even so, the cheetah puts any modern race car to shame.
The gazelle notices the hungry cheetah, but he also knows the exact safe distance; if the cheetah moves, he runs, leaps, and zig-zags out of reach; as he’s done so all his life. It’s a game of timing and strategy. Imagine what you would do if your life was constantly 15 seconds away from ending …all the time. What would you do today with your life that is any different than yesterday?
In a flash of color and a cloud of sand, the chase is on. The cheetah leaps forward and dashes into a full sprint. The gazelle leaps away and breaks into the opposite direction with equal agility and speed, zig-zagging, leaping, remaining just out of the cheetah’s reach. But remember, while the cheetah is running for his dinner, the gazelle is running for his life.
11 seconds into the chase and the gazelle thinks to himself “just a few more seconds and I’ll be safe”, then the turn to the unexpected happens and he has nowhere else to run. Trapped against a sand dune and a bolder he yells “WAIT!!!”
“Please brother, I plead you hear me out as my last thought before my certain demise”
The cheetah is panting hard but realizes the chase is over and he’s won – “Very well, say your piece”.
The exhausted gazelle continued – “I want to ask you: ‘why? why must we continue fighting?’ The world is huge, the world is vast with plenty of food, there is grass, foliage, and water for everyone. I can teach you and your kind to live off the land together with us, in harmony. You and I can be the beginning of something great, an everlasting peace in the dessert unprecedented, as never before. Together, we’ll be stronger. This can work.”
After a moment, the wise cheetah replied: – “Brother Gazelle, I admire your resolve. Please know that this is nothing personal. We all have our roles in life to fulfill. I was built, and given instincts to be a predator to chase and to kill. You were built, and given instincts to survive off the land and be chased and escape. Alas, in response to your question I plead you do not allow these words to haunt you:
But a cheetah must be the cheetah, and a gazelle must be the gazelle”.
In one swift motion, the cheetah instantly killed the gazelle.
Why is there war? Why must we kill each other over stupid ideals? If I am a good person, why do bad things happen to me and why did my ex and my boss lie to me and betray me and still continue to antagonize me?’
Why do you think? Maybe it’s time to realize that it has nothing to do with you. A lot of the times, we are not in control of what happens to us. We might be able to forge our future: learn, study, move to a developed country. But life is not meant to be peaceful or “good”, the baseline of life is suffering and struggle. That is precisely why reaching self-awareness and finding perpetual happiness is so special; if everyone did it, it would just be the norm.
The reality is that in life, we all have our roles to fulfill. Some of us learn from our mistakes, are open to constructive criticism, and welcome positive change and strive for spiritual growth; others, not so much. They choose to remain closed minded, deny all responsibility for their actions, blame others for their own downfalls and shortcomings, and antagonize anyone who gets in the way of their personal quips and desires.
I am not implying that we are “good” and they are “evil” people. To label them as such would be a mistake; as we are no one to judge others for their roles; that is not our place. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we will near the next level of self-awareness. Simply accept them and try your best to understand them for who they are; or remove yourself completely from their reach and influence which can possibly be too toxic. Remember: to the role of those who offend us… it is nothing personal, they’re just here to be obnoxious.
On the other hand, it is important to recognize and call ourselves out on our garbage when our current situation is not fate, or destiny, but the fault is all our own. There are always “road signs” in our lives pointing to the right way; and there is a constant struggle between following those signs or enforcing our free will and do what we want or think is best. Think back as far as you can and remember times when you “knew” you shouldn’t be doing something but you went ahead and did it anyway; or you “knew” that a person was not good for you but you were stubborn and tried to force a relationship. It always ends badly, and we are responsible. Sharpen your power of cognition and learn to trust the “road signs”.
There is a fine line that must be monitored at all times between forms of positive motivation and encouragement as opposed to negative motivations and stubbornness.
Without diving into any particular religion, in truth religion is a good place to start to learn how to read life’s “road signs”; and to tell the difference between “fight for what you believe in” and “ok, it’s time to cut our losses and move on”. Here are some types of cognition guides:
– Cognitive Dissonance: your conviction (as is you are convinced) that a distorted reality is true, and strongly believed in, in spite of overwhelming opposing and widely accepted evidence. “The world is flat”. “If I just try harder, she’ll learn to love me”. “This isn’t a dead-end job, I just need to spend more time and effort and work harder like the boss says”.
– Cognitive Resonance: your conviction that a reality is true, supported by overwhelming evidence. “The world is round”. “She said she’s not interested, time to move on”. “I’ve been here years and keep getting passed up for promotion, time to change careers”.
– Cognitive Blindness: when you’re lost in thought, like talking on the phone and driving, there comes a point you are so absorbed that you stop “seeing” what’s in front of you until your instinct of survival wakes you up then it’s too late.
– Evidence: 6 billion people can’t be wrong… or can they? Keep your mind open and know that “evidence” is subject to change without notice.
It’s important to realize where the boundaries between good and evil are. There’s a fine line between Perseverance and Obsession; between Ambition and Greed; between Persistence and Stubbornness.
For a more comprehensive list look at the Cardinal Sins, regardless if you’re religious or not, just read them objectively as a guide for clarity. To fight against falling for a cardinal sin, look at the Seven Virtues.
If you want me to dedicate an entire episode to this, please let me know.