Monday, January 19, 2009

The Shack 3

Good and evil. What exactly is good and evil? Can it be defined?

The idea of good and evil is formed in a person's mind according to what is good for him or not good for him. When we think of good, we think of those things that benefit us socially, financially or in any other way. When we think of evil, we think of things that will harm or hurt us. But is this a logical measure of good and evil?

The Civil War in the United States was fought to free people from slavery (a minor reason for the war, but present just the same). Is slavery evil? I think it depends on how you define it. The Southerners who had large plantations saw nothing evil about it and fought for it because it benefited them. Many of them still feel this way. The Northerners saw nothing good about it because it didn't benefit them in any way, and as they saw it, hurt other people.

Because of the Civil War, slaves were freed, or at least they were freed from bondage under plantation owners. Their freedom was not that easily attained because of prejudice. Once slaves were freed, they were still looked at as a lower class of people. Hate groups formed eventually such as the KKK. Blacks were harassed, killed and forced into positions of submission. They were not allowed in white schools. They rode in the back of a bus. There were many ways these people were abused. Was this evil? If you were raised to hate another race, it might be considered good. There are still people today that saw nothing wrong with slavery or black submission. All of this goes back to the idea of individualism vs a circle of relationships. Until we can accept all humans into our circle of relationships, there will be prejudice. Fortunately, we are making great advancements in this direction, but we still have a long way to go.

It seems as though I'm getting off the topic. Not really. In The Shack, Young talks about good and evil. People tend to work hard for what they consider good, things that benefit them, and will fight against what they consider to be evil because of fear. Sometimes the things people believe to be evil turns out good, or the good turns out evil. When your good clashes with someone's evil, war breaks out between you. Good and evil are just language with definitions formed in a person's mind. Papa says that we need to leave the concept of good and evil to him. He states that no one is completely good or evil. Even the man who killed Mack's daughter has some good in him, and Mack needs to forgive the man in order to have peace.

Why did we go to war in Iraq? Was it because there were weapons of mass destruction, or because we had an interest in their oil, or was it because we wanted to free the people from the pain, agony and death they were experiencing under Iraqi leadership? Was it because the Iraqi people were responsible for 9/11? All of these have been used as reasons to justify the war. It's sad that we didn't work harder on a circle of relationship rather than to jump into a war without at least trying to accomplish a peaceful solution. In fighting against what we perceive as the evil in the government, how many innocent men, women and children have we killed? How many more of our soldiers have died compared to the number of people killed in 9/11, and how many came home injured physically and/or emotionally? We as Americans are responsible for their deaths and injuries. How much damage have we inflicted upon the Iraqi people? How much prejudice have we inflicted upon the Muslim people?

I hear so much hate expressed towards the Iraqi people and the Muslim religion, but most of the people don't even consider that these are people just like us but with different traditions and a different way of life. Their religion is not a bad religion, just different from ours. What has given it the bad reputation is our fear because of a few people who have defined the religion to fit their needs. Imagine where the Christian religion would stand if they were judged for the actions of those who had instigated witch hunts, or if we defined all Christians as people like Jim Jones or David Koresh outside of Waco, Texas?

Mack refers to Papa as a Christian, but Papa is quick to say that he isn't a Christian, that the Christian religion was formed by people. The people have formed an hierarchy within the church in order to satisfy their own need of having someone in control. As I said in an earlier blog, he believes that the religions of the world all worship the same God, and that God is Him under different names. This is the same as I believe. We choose our religions to fit our individual needs rather than to have a circle of relationship between all religions and accept other religions as legitimate and basically good.

When people are hurt or being killed, we do need to try to stop these atrocities, but before we declare war on anyone, we need to negotiate and work out our differences in a circle of relationship. When people belong to a different religion, we should not tell them they are going to Hell because chances are, they are thinking the same of you. Accept their religion as being right for them and welcome it into your circle of relationships.

In closing, I believe that when one holds power over the other, the other is hurt and held back from being who they really are. Let's let people decide who they really are.

1 comment:

Aunt Dinah said...

Very interesting and very sound thinking. You and I think a lot a like. (Isn't that a surprise, considering how much DNA we share, how close we were growing up and that we were exposed to so many of the same people, experiences, church, etc.?) It sounds as if tolerance is a major theme in the Shack. I agree that tolerance of other races, cultures, faiths, and lifestyles is badly needed in the world today.