Monday, January 08, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly...

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the nature of wo(&)man kind. Are people generally good? Bad? What makes a person's life good? What makes it bad? Are we able to have an overall positive effect on the world, or are the unconcious daily decisions we make damaging enough to outweigh any concious good we do?

For example: I donate time and money to a variety of social interests I view important. I vote with my wallet, in that I research companies I purchase from (when I can) and decide whether or not to buy from them based on my research. However, I can't research every company I intend to purchase a good or service from all the time, so am I actually living my life such that I have a net positive effect on the world, or a negative one.

Walmart is an excellent example of this. They are the first company to require a pharmacist on staff who will dispense the morning after pill at all times. They also responded really well to Katrina and are partnering with GE to place floresent lights on their shelves as they are the lowest energy lights and will save energy, money, and time. However, they still employ bad business practices that are designed to drive their mom and pop competitors out of business, they still pay men more than women on average, promote them more, etc, and they still pay their people so little they can't shop at their own store.

So at the end of the day, is Walmart still evil? Is it still the place you never want to support? Does it's negative outweigh it's positives or vise versa.

If you are a foster family, and you shop at Walmart, are you in a net positive or negative? You are supporting the evils of Walmart, along with the goods, but you are also saving the lives of children by opening your homes to them.

Granted, whatever the outcome of your life is, or the aggregate total of evil or good you do, you should not use a net negative argument to stop doing good things, but it is an interesting perspective. When evaluating the human race as a whole, should we look to all the evil they do and all the good they do? Should we instead examine people as they act in groups, individually, etc?

In answering the question, Are people generally good or generally evil?, what traits and actions should be examined?


Woman with a Hatchet said...

Well now that's a whole series of serious questions.

I think people are neutral and their actions define them. The path to hell and all that is, after all, paved with good intentions. So even if your intentions are good ones and you still manage to kill people directly (not 5th party down) through your actions, I'd call you evil. For instance, the doctors that wanted to study syphillis and let it run rampant in black men MAY have had good intentions but their practice was EVIL. Thus, to me, they were evil men. Surely there was some other way of figuring that out.

However it becomes a slippery slope very quickly because there's ALWAYS going to be someone further up the
Angelic Chain that can point to their years in the Peace Corps that beats your local social activism, or my composting beats your recycling, etc. So you probably need to ask yourself whether you are contributing to the positive or the negative with your CONSCIOUS choices.

Shop at Walmart? Can you shop anywhere else? Then do so. Can't afford to? Then you should work to make the world a better place in some other way. Conscious choice. Could you recycle/compost but you don't because it's "too much trouble"? Something to think about then. "Too much trouble" doesn't cut it with me. Things that are worthwhile to do are going to take extra effort.

Having children is a perfect example. It's "easy" to just let them run rampant and a helluva lotta work to actually socialize them (Please, thank you, eating with utensils, using napkins, excuse me, etc.). It IS "easier" to not even bother, but a good human being is WORTH the extra effort. Just as taking care of our ONLY planet is WORTH the extra effort (of composting/recycling/eating organic/shopping at "blue" places/reducing our impact on the planet).

We only have the one planet. No one has yet PROVED there is a god/goddess and that there is any life other than this one. We need to stop kidding ourselves that there's some sort of better "other world" and that this one is disposable.

Dang! There a whole post right in this reply....

Scylla said...

Just the way I like it!!

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