Like so many people on this planet, I was brought up with notions of good and evil informing my every thought and opinion, and like everyone else, felt myself under the stress of the judgements that come with the labels. Every day we hear ourselves described in terms of being good or bad, but getting a “bad” label and reputation can be harmful for young individuals. I have always throughout my life felt that I wanted to “do good”, I tended towards the helpful and creative side, and yet I seemed to be the black sheep of my family.
This was the disapproval I felt from parents outweighing any sense of pride they had in me. The pride was apparent in very few ways – they had me demonstrate how I could read a newspaper (well, a tabloid) before my fourth birthday. A few years later, they indulged my interests enough for a day out to the Natural History Museum, albeit grudgingly after an hour or so). The opposing balance, however far outweighed any feeling of their pride. I failed to develop an interest that suited my Father (his were Football and cars). My Mother went back to work shortly after I was born, so I was left in the care of my Maternal Grandmother, who I greatly loved. One day my mother came home and eighteen month old me didn’t give her enough attention, so she sulked and chose to refuse to have much to do with me. As I grew, despite the fact that I was so willing to be helpful and good, I felt the parental disregard more and more. I grew up feeling alone in the house (we moved from my Grandmother’s when I was three), despite the presence of parents & younger brother, as such I was quite a withdrawn child. The sense of withdrawal didn’t help my popularity at school, and I was labelled “bad” far more often than I was labelled “good”. My interests being at such variance to Parents’, my interests became less and less tolerated and my withdrawal became secrecy. Eventually, if I wanted anything, I knew I couldn’t ask for it and took to stealing small amounts of money from them to fulfill my needs. My decline into badness accelerated as they shamed me, and I found no way to redeem myself. Despite having very good grades at school, they resisted my desire to go to college. I excelled at English subjects and wanted to become a teacher, but I was compelled to go out and earn my living. By the time I entered marriage my self image had deteriorated to the point where I thought myself as being bad, but wanted to be good. I expected criticism and condemnation and felt very uninspired increasingly by circumstances.
It was a poor marriage, not helped in the slightest by my inner deterioration. Inevitably, the marriage ended badly and I was terribly depressed. Going through the depression alone, I learned to pick myself up. I had new friends who had no exposure to my former life, and in this new climate I began to blossom again. In self examination at that time, I could see the kind of person I was, without the burden of the past for the first time. I felt liked and trusted for who I was now, and could respond to that positivety with positivety. Now I can be my potential, unspoiled by the former denigration.
Long ago, in what we called the dark ages, education and learning were wholeheartedly under the auspices of the church. It was only those minds prepared to speak the truth of their research despite attempts by the church to silence them that the dark ages eventually ended, and education and learning could be secular and challenge established thought. That same church which kept humanity in the dark ages for so long foisted these notions of good and evil upon us. I believe that most people want to be good, but find the pressure of the good/evil label a burden. We live in a dualistic universe, composed of positive and negative energy. The two balance each other, and neither is good or evil. If anything exists, it has an opposite, if anything ceases to exist, so must its opposite. The value of anything is known by the comparison to its opposite. We can equate these energies as order and chaos, but good and evil are abstract concepts that strictly speaking are self fulfilling prophecies.
Try this: every time you encounter the words “good”, “bad” or “evil” in relation to people – either in your thoughts or anywhere you read or hear them, substitute the word “human” instead, “Human” is not an excuse for behaviour, but it does help us to see things differently. Being human allows us a measure of understanding, it gives hope for the future of us all. We are all allowed to be human, because humans can make mistakes, then bounce back and do wonderful things.