[December 23, 2019] Nearly 75 years ago today, a town sheriff in Bonita Louisiana (a small town in the northeast part of the state) stood with his shotgun at the town’s entrance to prevent the Klu Klux Klan from entering. At the time, he was “stopping progress,” but decades later, he was the town’s savior and hero.
An ancient question, rarely answered satisfactorily, revolves around the distinction between good and evil. Undoubtedly, part of the problem is language itself since linguistic concepts mature and evolve over time and among different cultures. The difference between good and evil is not so easy once we begin to disassemble the idea. I’m not going to attempt that here.
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20
Philosophers across time have undertaken the difficult task of sorting through the complexities of good and evil. I certainly could not add to the understanding. What I can do, however, is highlight an uncharacteristic idea we see slowly developing in the West. What social commentators are saying is that some people are no longer able to distinguish between good and evil.
Recent U.S. socialist-like movements (e.g., Antifa, KKK, Black Liberation Army, American Communist Party) are based on the idea that the American capitalist system is both corrupt and gives preferential (unfair and discriminatory) treatment to individual races of people. Therefore, as the argument goes, capitalism and any system that supports it is inherently evil. Evil should be attacked and destroyed, a case that is hard to ignore.
Community leaders are the first level of defense against the radicalization of their citizens and political leaders all have the intrinsic responsibility to educate us about the actions of these groups, how they fit into our value structure (culture), and what is being done by them that is either good or evil. Some have argued that leadership at this level is in short supply.
People are finding it more difficult to tell the difference between good and evil. One glaring example, as I’ve noted here many times, are those who adopt socialism (and its sister ideologies) despite overwhelming evidence of the unmitigated evil that ideology has spawned. The death of more than 100 million people is significant, yet those who believe in socialism say that socialists today are just smarter than those in the past.
How do we get back to a better understanding of what is good and evil? Can We Distinguish Between Good and Evil? Those questions are the most asked question of this century. Remember, when leaders fail, evil grows.1