Good verses evil is the common conflict in fantasy. There is a good reason for that, it allows for the stakes to be high. Good verses evil is also a conflict we can relate to in many small-scale ways in life. Before I have written about evil and if we would recognize it. This time I would like to focus on good. The same question I asked about evil I raise with good, how adept are we at detecting it?
Humanity is excellent at justifying its actions from calling certain lies “white” all the way to the worst people explaining away their atrocities in history. We all do this to varying degrees. I have. You have too. It isn’t right but it is reality. Sometimes we lack self-awareness and become hardly critical of others while being blind to our own short comings. Inevitably as a result our understanding of good becomes murky.
Combine the above situation with ideology and people in power trying to shape opinions in order to gain votes, both good and evil become gray in areas they shouldn’t. I’m not a moral relativist, but do accept that there are certain degrees of wiggle room for morality. This means the moral may be that killing another human is wrong, but the wiggle room might be defending one’s self, family, or nation from those who would do harm.
Good may not always be easy to see. We have the frailty of our ideologies, what we’ve been told, and our emotions. You may say, “good isn’t that hard to see!” In many cases I would agree and say that is true. However, with our current political climate fostering two distinct and incompatible views of good, to me it becomes evident how easily we can be deceived by outside and internal forces.
How do we guard against deception and developing a warped view of good? Understanding the limitations of our ideologies, politics, and bias is a good start. If we can see outside of ourselves and personal worldview, we can start to see things more clearly.