*picture above is a property of Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game, picture for reference only
We humans are living beings capable of doing good and evil, and how we act affects the whole world in some way. But what makes our actions good or evil? We have moral standards that evolve over time, and yet we still haven’t reached a point where everyone agrees on a universal single standard. We probably never will, but I have been thinking of a set of principles that are not based on a particular belief system, but the context still revolves around human, animal, and environmental welfare. By the way, I’m a Roman Catholic by religion. Also, I did not enroll Theology or Philosophy in University but rather Accounting, therefore I have limited knowledge on the subject and expect the biases coming from those.
Nevertheless, I give you my personal framework for assessing the fate of civilization (yes, I think that deep) based my own interpretation of the standards of good and evil. The premise is that we act towards one of two extremes, one that fits the definition of evil in which I refer to as “Destructive/Selfish Tendency,” and the polar opposite in which I refer to as “Preservative/Selfless Tendency.” A middle ground would be impossible to measure at this point.
Destructive – Selfish Tendency <—–your action—–> Preservative – Selfless Tendency
Pride <————————————————-> Humility
Sloth <————————————————-> Industriousness
Lust <————————————————–> Self-denial
Greed <————————————————> Generosity
Envy <————————————————-> Contentment
Wrath <———————————————–> Forgiveness
Gluttony <——————————————–> Abstinence
In a social perspective, my definition of destruction is the deprivation of one’s right or well-being for the survival, comfort, or pleasure of another. The environmental perspective of destruction also boils down to how many sentient beings are negatively impacted to satisfy one’s whims.
The main argument here is that in every situation if we exercise traits that fall under “Destructive – Selfish Tendency,” then we have pushed the balance of the world towards its demise, whereas if we exercise traits under “Preservative – Selfless Tendency,” then we have done the opposite. But the reality is much more complex than that. There are words like “necessary evil” or “creative destruction” which suggest a mix between the two. Also, there are multiple perspectives in which the situation is assessed, whether it is an individual perspective, a family perspective, an environmental perspective, or a global perspective. To address this complexity, I would weigh it based on an estimate of how much was “destroyed” versus how much was “preserved/created,” and I assess it in different perspectives before I make a final judgment. With this concept in mind, would you be able to tell if it is ethical to kill animals for food, or to cut trees for paper, or to destroy forests in favor of housing? Since we don’t live in a perfect world, our desire to do good can’t be manifested in pure form, but it can be optimized by creating/preserving more while destroying less. Throughout history, we have been familiar with the concept of “sacrifice,” while its application varies from religious practices to warfare.
Now think about the billions of people in existence on this planet and imagine what things they are doing right now with relation to creation/preservation and destruction. For some people, they actually see that there is more destruction, which gives them that bias for action. I personally see it this way, and I feel the need to “restore” the balance in my own circle of influence through spreading conscious awareness. I believe that simply condemning others is a cheap tactic, or undermining others’ beliefs in the guise of constructive criticism. Why not start with some rapport?
I believe this basic framework enables us to tell how much of our environment and our society will destroy or preserve itself based on the weighted average action of all human beings, whether it’s towards the destructive side or the creative/preservative side. If it is as clear as this, then it should be a worthy quest to move that average towards the “good” side by influencing people one by one. Afterall, good people don’t just show up conveniently.
Do you have any particular cause you believe in?