People Are “Good,” not “Evil”

People Are “Good,” not “Evil”

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B: What I want to emphasize is this: we don’t need laws to force us to be good.  Laws do not make us moral.  People are good already on their own.  As we agreed before, some basic laws need to exist to prevent an anarchy, yes.  But whenever somebody feels they’ve been mistreated, or says “there ought to be a law,” it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to enact laws to make moral choices for us.  If we do, might there not be a tendency for people to leave all questions of morality to the law, and not bother worrying about it on their own?  When this happens, legality becomes morality, and the law becomes not only the supreme legal authority, but also the supreme moral authority – i.e., if it’s legal, then it must be OK.

But rather than that, I’m claiming that the more freedom we have (up to the enforcement of those most basic freedoms that preserve the peace), the more moral we actually will be, because the responsibility to make our own moral choices will lie with us, instead of having some central government decree and enforce it for us.  We need to decide on those freedoms that need to be preserved, and stick to those, regardless of whatever complaints arise thereafter.  We have to be willing to abide the choices others make, even if we don’t agree with them, and even if they inconvenience us, as long as those choices are guaranteed by the freedoms that they have.  Ultimately, it comes down to the definition of freedom, which contains those things that should be freedoms for everybody, and not those things that should not be.

People, in general, are more “good” than they are “evil.”  Even an atheist, who may figure he must not be in God’s good graces for not believing He exists, has an opportunity to be good without converting to a belief in God, by simply doing good things for others, just as God says everybody should do when He commands, “love others.”  In fact, my belief is that such an atheist would be more favored in God’s eyes than a person who claims to believe in God and yet consciously refuses to do God’s will, since the latter is mocking God, thinking that God will mindlessly overlook all his misdeeds, perhaps simply because he believes in God.  Just because you have a mental belief in God, it doesn’t automatically make you a better person (“better” meaning more like God, the source of all good) than one who doesn’t hold this belief.  We express belief, as I mentioned before, by actions, and not just words.  We’ve all heard that adage “actions speak louder than words.”

Really, everybody, deep down, knows there is a God.  This fact is not really germane to my argument, but I just thought I’d throw that out there: there is inside each of us the nagging little notion that our existence does not end with death, and that we will be held accountable for the things we knew and did in this life.  Not only that, but we all show our belief in God by behaving, in many ways, the way we know He’d want us to behave if we knew there was a God.  Perhaps we may not go to church, but we’re willing to help a friend out in need.  We might cuss a little here or there, but that doesn’t mean we don’t think it important to provide for our families.  And sometimes it’s hard to believe there is a God, let alone remember that He’s there, but we still live honestly and are concerned about those closest to us so much that we’re constantly wondering what to do to help them be happy – probably because we know how much it makes us ourselves happy to do so.  We also work hard, which God’s gotta like.  Most people really do believe in these so-called “family values,” and while I’m not condoning the other actions I just mentioned that God has forbidden, let’s focus on those good things we do well and often.  I’m convinced that for at least 90% of people, and probably closer to 100%, they do far more good things than bad.1  Of course they’re not perfect and of course they should seek to improve – and remember the reason I say “should” is simply for their own happiness: because by improving they’ll be happier with themselves and with their lives in general.  But hey!  We’re really not doing that badly.

  1.  If that percentage would be far lower, however, like around 50%, then it’s an entirely different story and society has a serious problem on its hands; in that case, no government can cure the problem.

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