I recently enjoyed a post by Cliff Hays titled “On the Existence of God and Evil” (http://cliffhays.weebly.com/blog/on-the-existence-of-god-and-evil), and it prompted this contribution:
When good means benevolence (good will) and evil means malevolence (bad will), a problem always arises with the question, “Good for whom? Bad for whom?”
Good and bad for us, right? But some of what some of us call good can very clearly feel like evil to the rest. Then, I say, if God is, and God is good, then God is good for God. Never mind whether altruism exists (I say probably not), as actors, we have a limited scope in a dynamic world of give and take–of balance achieved and balance lost. If we overstep, somebody or something will be stepped on, and it will likely push back or find itself overrun. Thus, freedom, sometimes described as the ability to swing our first as wide as we like until we connect with another’s face, is a relative construct. By extension, so is justice. Consequence may be the only moral imperative.
But all that aside, I cannot deny that every once in a while I run across a person I’d call evil. I personally define evil people as people with an impulse to destroy, people compelled to grind out the flower sprouting from the sidewalk. Sport hunters–those who fly to faraway lands to kill a creature they admire–fit squarely into this category. As has everyone, I’ve made mistakes; I’ve offended and hurt others—sometimes without meaning to, sometimes out of anger or self-righteousness. Some have been strangers to me, and some of those I’ve hurt I love. But it’s not a wanton, reckless, or willful destruction. Overall, my impulse has always been to build, not destroy; to lift up, not put down. I want people to thrive because I find it beautiful.
And yet I’m fascinated by inadvertent horror, the bleak circumstance that turns mundane. Sometimes I write about it. So, in this sense, may I call myself benevolent? I build imaginary worlds. People behave badly in my imaginary worlds. Am I a benevolent god? Am I good for me? Was my story good for me as we are good for God, diddling with our extremities in this slight corner of the universe?