Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Is There A Single Source Of Wrong?

Any number of people propose a single source of all wrong in the world. The most popular culprits are desire, ego and ignorance. My response is that wrong can come from all of these and more.

There are some bad things that happen that are nobody's fault. No human being is responsible for a tsunami. As for wrongs that are man-made, they are result of wrong choices that people make. And these can come from any number of possible directions.

Probably the easiest culprit to exonerate is desire. You only need to look at the map of the world. There was far more suffering in Afghanistan under the Taliban, where just about all forms of desire were disallowed, than in Sweden or France, where they are allowed. Desire can lead you into trouble; it can also have positive outcomes. I see nothing wrong with a desire for peace or comfort or companionship or good food or nice things; and even sexual desire can have positive outcomes, such as having children or having beautiful shares with someone you love.

Ego, or “hubris,” is mentioned even more often. The proponents of ego-as-the-root-of-all-evil theory make all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to portray anything that people do as based in ego when it is not. In fact, most wrongs are not based in ego. The biggest manmade wrongs have been done in the name of ideologies that demonized individual's ego and either wanted to subvert it to the will of the collective or to have it destroyed. The Muslims who slaughtered 100 million Hindus and Middle Easterners did not do what they did for ego; they did it for Islam. The Spanish who destroyed the Incan, Moore and Aztec empires did not do what they did for ego; they did it for their country and for their erroneous concept of what was God's will for them. The Soviets, who also committed great wrongs, saw individual ego as selfishness and wanted to get everyone to serve the collective. Jeffrey Dahmer did not do what he did for ego; he did it because he enjoyed eating people. Probably the most useful concept to have come out of Ayn Rand is that individual's ego stands as a bulwark against tyranny; and that is the case both with official tyrannies such as Communism and unofficial tyrannies such as the society of Midwest.

Furthermore, if ego had been the root of all evil, then there would be no suffering in beings – such as little children, animals and senile old people – who do not have an ego; and of course there is the suffering in all of these beings and more.

The claim that evil is based in ignorance is more credible than the preceding. In many cases that is correct. However there are any number of people who do wrong things knowingly. America for one is full of all sorts of conmen and scammers. Probably the biggest example of deliberate, knowing evil is the behavior of Texas Oil. They know very well what is happening. They tell people lies in order to keep their profits. The cause of this evil is not ignorance. It is deliberate ill intent.

There are of course any number of other culprits. One culprit that is not often listed is the heart. Any number of people think that heart is inerrant; but I have known any number of highly spiritually developed people whose heart lead them into trouble. Sometimes people took advantage of their compassion. Sometimes people conned them, pretending to be good people when they were not. Sometimes people were able to use guilt trips on them to get them to do their bidding when it was the wrong thing to do.

In short, there can be any number of possible sources of wrongdoing. Ego, desire and ignorance can all lead people astray; but so can any number of other things. The source of manmade wrong is wrong choices that people make. And these can come from any number of places, the ones listed above being only some of them.


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