by Amberly Robinson
As a child I used to watch movies starring heroes and villains. I knew the difference between good and evil before I even understood how I came to be a part of this world. My thoughts were fueled by stories of innocent princesses, evil witches, scary monsters, brave knights and strong warriors. I watched Disney movies and I read about magic and missions. The stories were fascinating and exciting. But what I didn’t realize was that as I began to get attached to the fictional tales, to root for the heroes and hate the villains; I was subconsciously learning to side with the good guys. I was being taught to recognize the good qualities in a hero and to admire the way they fought for what was just and brought the villains down in the end. I learned that good always wins.
As I grew up, the fight between good and evil still pervaded the media that I was exposed to, but I began to learn that the idea extended to right and wrong, a concept that encompasses morality, accuracy, and justice. History taught me that wars between nations were waged always against “enemies” to protect good things like equality, security, and independence. It showed me that the ruler ideally should uphold and defend what is right and just on behalf of the citizens. English taught me that every story has a “good guy” and a “bad guy,” fiction or not, and that we only come to sympathize with those who we deem worthy of such empathy. Science taught me to search for the truth and to be skeptical while doing so. It taught me that we are in a never-ending battle with abnormality and perversion, and that our environment is less than the ideal that we strive to make it. It also taught me to be amazed at the detail with which we and our environment were created. The word “created” is however never used for reasons of which I’m sure you are quite aware. But every scientist is in pursuit of truth and with each discovery, we get a bit closer to it. Math taught me that there is a right and a wrong way to do things, that the distinction is absolute and that there is no in-between. I learned that there are rules that are irrefutable and must not be ignored for fear of coming to the wrong answer and becoming unable to accomplish some ultimate goal. And then there was music. It taught me that certain combinations are just right while others are no good. It taught me that each note, each chord, or each instrument has a special place and adds significant value to the overall effect. It taught me that parts exist to make a whole; that separately they are utterly unimpressionable but together they form a perfect and indescribable beauty that can be appreciated by all.
What I’ve come to realize through all this is that, as humans, we share an internal sense of right and wrong, or good and evil. We know that many things are less than perfect and we recognize perfection in the rare times that we are able to observe it. This sense is the only thing that makes the concept of justice possible. It is common among all humans and across all cultures. The knowledge of good and evil (or right and wrong) is like some unspoken rule that we are all subconsciously aware of and yet we have such a hard time grasping what it means for us in our ever-present struggle to reach some ideal, to get a little bit closer to perfection. Though we cannot always agree on where some things fall on the scale of right and wrong, we all agree that there is such a scale, whether pertaining to moral values or concrete ones. Without this underlying truth, words such as “right,” “wrong,” “accurate,” “inaccurate,” “good,” “evil,” “just,” “unjust,” “truth,” and “lie” would not exist at all. The interesting thing is the words themselves are absolute but that the way in which we use many of them is often subjective. Each one has an antonym that is its exact opposite and may be related to that word with varying degrees. For example: When asked whether my friend is a good person, I decide that I do not mean to indicate that he is perfect and like a saint, but at the same I do not want to imply that he is evil as Satan either. I may decide on something like “He is a pretty good person…not perfect but he is so funny and has such a sympathetic heart. I think that you will like him.” I purposely say that he will probably be “liked” and avoid such words as “love” or “hate” when trying to be accurate, because it is neither extreme that I wish to express. The fact that I can even do this—that is describe a person as “very good, “really bad” or anything in between—means that I am comparing my friend to some absolute on this internal scale.
The existence of the concept of right vs. wrong or good vs. evil is prevalent in every area of our lives as humans. It exists in our stories, our morals, our jobs, our opinions, and the things in which we decide to or not to believe. As a follower of Christ, I see this as a subtle but steady indication of the war which rages around us between God and Satan, and the world as God intended it to be versus the way that it, in reality, is.