Must we deny some inevitable truths in order to achieve greatness? Are any truths concerning our identities inevitable? Is accepting those possibly inevitable truths a form of greatness? Is it wrong to embrace the evils of our nature, if they are unavoidable? Must we accept the evils of others, if none of us can avoid them all? And which are unavoidable? The ones that define us? The ones that every one seems to have? The ones that seem to protect us? What is evil?
There was a time when I was proud to declare that evil does not exist, that it is a conception of humans for the sake of shorthand blame. If I had been cleverer, I would have added to this some thing about relativity and individual reality. Evil is a conception of humans, but so is society. Unless you are a selfish solipsist or some other type of pompous ass who believes that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SOCIETY, it is easy to believe that social order in necessary even for two isolated people to survive and have a chance at happiness. It is simple to imagine that what is capable of destroying that order to be evil. Murder, lying, and theft are commonly considered to be the basic things to avoid to keep a society running. Breaching of social contracts is arguably different from lying, and generally social contracts are required for any thing to stay in order. I won’t try to murder you, if you don’t try to murder me. That sort of thing. What about more abstract things that push people away from each other? Is it always evil to break a social contract, even if general order, even between two individuals, is not broken?
There was a time when I as proud to declare that evil does not exist. I heard the word used too carelessly, beyond the scope of its definition, so I countered with an opposite extreme. Now I have studied ethics, and I believe in evil. Breaching of a serious social contract of any kind is wrong. Doing wrong maliciously is evil. That is not difficult for me to understand. What is difficult to pinpoint is whether evil can be done for greater good, and when forgiveness is appropriate. Forgiveness does not exist within the realm of right and wrong. Forgiveness belongs to the realm of romanticism, a place where logic is lost and confused. Per haps it has amnesia.
Can one do evil to the self? Can one enter in to social contracts with the self? Some say to cause suffering is to cause evil, and we can certainly bring our selves to suffer, and many of us suffer by default. Are the habits that bring the self to suffer evil? Is it wrong to allow them? The answers to these questions do not matter; it is always in our best interest to relieve our own suffering, though per haps not immediately (suffering in the short run to bring satisfaction in the long run). This is also simple. What is complicated is the fact that suffering can be relieved by removing the stressor and by adapting to the stressor. We may suffer because we do not have the funds to buy for our selves nice things, or we may accept that we are without nice things and be happy with what we do have. Which do we choose? When is it more reasonable to change our environment, and when is it more reasonable to change our selves? Do we base this choice on which is easier, or on which is likely to be most effective? Do we suffer to achieve our ideals, or do we change our ideals? What good are our ideals, if they can so suddenly be changed after stress evaluation? What were we before we chose those ideals- and we did choose them. We chose every single last one of them.