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Vilcabamba Ecuador, August 2010
I have news. There are no good and bad people. We’re all good and bad, or
We have literally been programmed to put people (and animals) into boxes. There
are many boxes we like to use to classify people: left-wing / right-wing, homo-
or hetero-, catholic, free-mason, atheist, vegan, carnivore, realist, optimist,
dreamer, hippie, punk, new age (yes “new age” is just yet another box albeit one
of the latest) but the main two boxes that we use are labeled “good” and “bad”.
There are the good people, our friends, our loved ones, who reside in the “good
people box” and our enemies, our rivals, the people we don’t get along with, all
these losers and fanatics out there or whatever we like to call them, in the “bad
people box”. We spend our entire lives sorting people out, the grain from the chaff,
this one good, this one bad, hmmm this one, don’t know yet ... It is even more obvious
with animals: rats and cockroaches are bad, dogs and cats are good, sharks and snakes
are bad, turtles and dolphins are good etc...
It starts at school. School teaches us that there is one “good” answer, only one,
to everything and anything else is a bad answer. School teaches us “history”, a
long list of barbaric events where bad people fight good people (or is it the other
way round?). Always, there are 2 camps, the bad Japanese, the good Americans (usually),
the Indians and the cowboys, the fanatic Muslims, the good Christians, the conspiracy
theorists, the gays, the list goes on.
Family life, education and discipline assist to deepen the dichotomy: good child
eats his vegetables, bad child talks back to mummy and daddy, good child keeps room
tidy and helps with dishes ...
Religion has a lot to answer for. Some religions teach us that we are all born bad
but can claim redemption through our actions later in life and become good. Religions
seem to make some animals evil like the snake or filthy like the pig and some others,
nothing short of “sacred” like the humble cow. Animals or people, the whole religion
business is still totally centred around the concept of good versus bad.
The workplace contributes too: good boss, bad boss, good or bad employee, competition,
us versus them, branding, rat race, the winner, the looser...
In the field of medicine, Louis Pasteur identified the source of all our ailments
as the bacteria, the viruses, the parasites, all these forms of “bad” micro-organisms
which dare to infect us “good” innocent mammals who, unlike them, mind our own businesses.
After all, we do not invade another living creature (apart from mother earth herself
that is) like these evil micro organisms. The world we live in today is still very
much “Pasteurized” as reflected not only in what we do to our milk but also how
our modern hospitals function, what products we have in our homes and dump into
our toilets. Even people knowledgeable in homeopathy, naturopathy, herbs, supplements,
holistic medicine have a difficult time moving away from this Pasteur “good vs bad”
way of thinking. I often catch such good people say things like “I have caught this
or that bug and it made me so sick”. “I caught it from this animal who is a “carrier”
or from this food which was stale, must be the mosquitoes, or the cat or the seafood”.
It comes from all directions and influences us deeply, to the point where we actually
come to use the process of comparing ourselves with others (people or species) on
a bad versus good scale to “define” ourselves. Sure, if this guy there who I really
don’t like is a “bad guy” and I can get enough other people, enough of my friends,
the “good guys”, to dislike him as much as I do, and make them say so in public
places, then we’re all settled, nice and cosy. We have now defined the clear boundary
between the good and the bad. It feels so good to be good.
Recently, we had a bad run of burglaries and assaults here in our small Ecuadorian
village. People were very scared. The good guys got together to pro-actively protect
themselves against the bad guys. Some of us were attacked and yes, some were injured.
I remember comments from others saying that nothing happens out of nothing, that
there is always a story behind every story, meaning that these people who were attacked
somehow got what they deserved? This is a powerful mechanism for people to classify
others. If a rationale can be found to explain that the people being attacked are
“bad guys” or at the very least have done some “bad things” and, along that same
rationale, I can be found to be a “good guy” and I have not done “bad things”, then
I won’t be attacked and therefore I feel safe.
Of course, our leaders, who know what they are doing, some consciously some subconsciously,
would not like us to free ourselves from this bi-polar world of good and bad. That
is why the school is what it is, the army is what it is, the church is what it is,
the workplace is what it is and the world is what it is.
How about movies? Watch any kids’ movie, recent or classic, from Snow White or Cinderella
to Dora la Exploradora or the Barbie collection. Bad guys are really bad, I mean,
really really bad, usually with a long nose, sharp nails and an evil laugh. Watch
grown ups’ movies, with few exceptions, it is the same. We seem to love the comfort
of these situations where the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad and where
there is no ambiguity. The worse the bad guy is, the worse the things he does to
others, the better, provided that before the end, he gets a good kick, burns alive
or falls from a crane. The epitome of this is the classic “horror movie” which redefines
the bad one step further.
TV news? They are a never ending saga of bad guys causing trouble to good guys.
From birth to school, from family to the workplace, from the church to the doctor’s
appointment, from the 6 O’clock news to the blockbuster movie, this dichotomy makes
us who we are: beings with tunnel visions and closed hearts.
What if we scrapped all that? Would that be possible? Can one actually make friend
with a mosquito, not make any judgment towards a snake, stop blaming one’s dis-eases
on some bug, be neither right or wrong, see others as neither right nor wrong either,
stop claiming redemption, understanding, comfort. Can we do this? Is it possible?
Pick someone who has hurt you, offended you, done something bad to you. That’s the
easy part. Pick a situation where you were obviously in your right, at least according
to your own logic. Think of how you reacted. I bet you talked about that person
in bad terms to your friends or to others, not necessarily in a blunt and obvious
way but maybe in subtle innuendos, or maybe you fail to say something good about
that person when you could have or you failed to do something that you could have
done. The purpose of these after the facts things that you said or did or did not
say or did not do is always the same: prove to yourself that you are right and good
and that the other person is wrong and bad, draw that line between good and bad
and put yourself on one side of it and the offender on the other side, seek the
help of others to achieve that separation. People do that all day long, all over
the world, chit chat, such and such, you know what he did to me? Blah blah... viper
tongues, all over the planet. It’s the main conversation topic.
Now, next time, try this instead if you can, it is very difficult. Say nothing,
absolutely nothing to anyone, not even your spouse. Just wait. If you can, mention
that person who hurt you in a positive way. This is the hardest thing to do. I have
failed repetitively at it but, at least now, I am aware of it.
Yet, I must say that there is something deeply disturbing in this way of looking
at the world that I am describing above. Is it not naive? The problem is the following:
evil -is- real, there –are- evil people and organisations out there. What about
rape and murder, the torturing of innocents, burnt villages, dropped nuclear bombs?”
Is there any possible rationale according to which such events and the people driving
them could be considered anything other than bad? And neither are these types of
events exceptional. It is simply too easy to find records of all the horrors committed
by us on ourselves and other species throughout the ages. So, how do we reconcile
this tangible reality of evil at work with another reality that does not put people
and things into good and bad boxes?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, this is a difficult subject. If you are Christian,
Jesus provided many answers and pointers to help. For example, he preached that
anything can be forgiven. And he meant –anything- including being nailed alive on
a plank of wood. So why not Hiroshima or your spouse’s latest affair? He also asked
to whoever wants to throw the first stone to do it, clearly implying what I have
been saying with my own words: that no one should claim being good and accuse of being bad. I am no expert
in religions but I know that each one of them addresses the issue of injustice,
evil and suffering one way or another.
Outside of the religious sphere, another way
to look at things has been brought up by Anita in her latest write up about the
Here is an excerpt:
... think of a disco ball. You know the ones with all the
little square mirrors on them that they hang and turn and that send white dots all
over the dance floor. Just hold the image of the ball itself in your mind ... See
the small square mirrors on it?
Each square represents a part of your make up. You are made
up of the spirit, flowing energy, a higher self, an ego, an alter ego and lots of
little egos, conditioning, energy signatures, energy blockages, conditioning patterns,
beliefs etc. Each square mirror on that ball represents a part of what makes up
the whole of who you are. Each one of us (animals included) is like a dance ball
with a thousand square mirrors.
Now pay attention to the fact that we are dealing with a ball.
When you look at a ball (don’t turn it, hold it still, just in front of you and
look at it) you only see a percentage of its total surface, its face, of what the
ball looks like. You cannot see the side that is opposite to the side you are looking
When I know you, I know or ‘see’ a group of your mirrors.
I see a percentage of what makes up you! I may see a percentage that makes you my
friend or someone I love.
Someone else may see a different group of your mirrors and
this group combined together makes you someone they don’t like.
We may see a person in a good group of mirrors for some length
of time then through events, be they actual or verbal (i.e. gossip), we see another
section of mirrors one we hadn’t been aware of before, say a negative section and
suddenly that person is reclassified in our mind (by our ego) and they become ‘bad’.
We are now focused on another side of their dance ball and have lost sight of the
side (good side) we were once focused on.
This is simplistic view as there is no good or bad side just
a big mix up of stuff so you usually see a percentage of positive traits of someone
and a percentage of a negative traits and the ratio influences how you perceive
them. Also, what you consider positive and negative traits will differ from what
I say consider positive and negative traits for example. You get my point?
I would add that we also choose to a certain degree which facets of our ball we
project to the outside world. The so called “evil people” have chosen to display
some really nasty facets of their beings to the world and this is how we come to
see them as “bad”. However, for them just like for yourself, this is all relative
and all incomplete. What we see of them are only a few facets of their ball and the rest we cannot
see nor comprehend. When confronted with evil, we can only be extremely humble because,
let's face it, we just don't have a clue!
This good and bad dichotomy is what keeps us where we are, at the bottom of the
barrel so to speak, unable to rise and reach our true potentials as a species. Moving away from
it is challenging but rewarding. It is also necessary. The first step in this transition
is to become aware of when and how we do it. When we become aware, we can then catch
ourselves each time as it happens and with practice bite our tongues before we play
the same game again.
Only when we can stop drawing that line between good and bad all the time and seeking
our friends’ help to put us on the good side of it, only then, can we really grow to our next level
as conscious human beings.
If we all were to give up categorizing everything around us into good and bad, two
things would happen all over the world:
1. The world would go silent as we’d have little to talk about.
Imagine every moment someone speaks about someone else (or about some entity, being
a government, a country or a group of people) in bad terms replaced by an equally
long moment of silence! The silence would be deafening. I am sure we’d find other
conversation topics though, so nothing to fear.
2. The forces that keep us at the bottom, where we are, would
lose their grip on us. Literally the “matrix” would disintegrate instantly, letting
us finally see what lies beyond. Without our need to judge, every sound, every sight,
every movement of every life form, no matter how insignificant or disturbing would
become an expression of what we ourselves are: infinite life.
It is difficult to comprehend how exactly this would be like but would you not agree
that it is likely to be awesome and definitely worth a try?
Try today and see what
happens. Let me know. I'd love to be flooded with success stories. I'll post them on this web site.