In a comment to a recent post by a friend of a video interview of journalist and author Chris Hedges, I offered my observation that "Entities and systems are rarely good or evil."
Hedges, who identifies himself as a socialist, is a harsh critic of what he perceives to be the betrayal of America by the liberal Left. Hedges chastises the Left for failing to adhere to its own ethical beliefs and work towards achieving meaningful and radical change to restructure the social and economic infrastructure of America so as to perpetrate true equality and access to resources for all Americans.
I agree with Hedges that liberalism hasn't exactly made radical changes in America but I don't view the Left as a sellout, in cahoots with corporate America to trample on the heads of the little people. Hedges believes in absolutes; he is quick to classify institutions, businesses, and economic systems as evil.
I found that to be an oversimplification; hence my observation that entities and systems are rarely good or evil. My statement wasn't readily understood by other readers and I feel compelled to further explain my line of thinking.
The terms good and evil denote some type of intentional and chosen path of behavior. I reserve those terms for descriptors of human behavior. A lion kills a gazelle.The act is neither good nor evil but an instinctive desire to feed.
I think that it allows humans to absolve ourselves of responsibility for our actions when we attribute intent and desire to non-human creatures or things.
For example, variations of the declaration that "War is a necessary evil" have been repeated throughout recorded history. It allows us to declare that some wars are good wars. The Roman Catholic Church went so far as to declare that some wars had God's blessing and were indeed, holy wars. It has also allowed us to regard war as inevitable and devote very little energy to the avoidance or prevention of war. After all it's a necessity, can't be helped. We totally avoid tackling head on that we create wars and what we create, we can choose not to create. We continue blissfully fighting these "necessary" wars as if there really were an Ares who decides when humans shall engage in wars.
When we attribute anthropomorphic qualities to systems and events, declare them to be good or evil, we abdicate human responsibility for control of those systems and entities. They are neither good nor evil, they are simply what we permit them to be and if we want them changed,we first have to accept our collective responsibility for allowing those systems and entities to get out of control in the first place.
We have met the enemy and he is us.--Walt Kelly