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Good people and bad people

Pierre Wauters
Vilcabamba Ecuador, August 2010

I have news. There are no good and bad people. We’re all good and bad, or neither.

We have literally been programmed to put people (and animals) into boxes. There are many boxes we like to use to classify people: left-wing / right-wing, homo- or hetero-, catholic, free-mason, atheist, vegan, carnivore, realist, optimist, dreamer, hippie, punk, new age (yes “new age” is just yet another box albeit one of the latest) but the main two boxes that we use are labeled “good” and “bad”. There are the good people, our friends, our loved ones, who reside in the “good people box” and our enemies, our rivals, the people we don’t get along with, all these losers and fanatics out there or whatever we like to call them, in the “bad people box”. We spend our entire lives sorting people out, the grain from the chaff, this one good, this one bad, hmmm this one, don’t know yet ... It is even more obvious with animals: rats and cockroaches are bad, dogs and cats are good, sharks and snakes are bad, turtles and dolphins are good etc...

It starts at school. School teaches us that there is one “good” answer, only one, to everything and anything else is a bad answer. School teaches us “history”, a long list of barbaric events where bad people fight good people (or is it the other way round?). Always, there are 2 camps, the bad Japanese, the good Americans (usually), the Indians and the cowboys, the fanatic Muslims, the good Christians, the conspiracy theorists, the gays, the list goes on.

Family life, education and discipline assist to deepen the dichotomy: good child eats his vegetables, bad child talks back to mummy and daddy, good child keeps room tidy and helps with dishes ...

Religion has a lot to answer for. Some religions teach us that we are all born bad but can claim redemption through our actions later in life and become good. Religions seem to make some animals evil like the snake or filthy like the pig and some others, nothing short of “sacred” like the humble cow. Animals or people, the whole religion business is still totally centred around the concept of good versus bad.

The workplace contributes too: good boss, bad boss, good or bad employee, competition, us versus them, branding, rat race, the winner, the looser...

In the field of medicine, Louis Pasteur identified the source of all our ailments as the bacteria, the viruses, the parasites, all these forms of “bad” micro-organisms which dare to infect us “good” innocent mammals who, unlike them, mind our own businesses. After all, we do not invade another living creature (apart from mother earth herself that is) like these evil micro organisms. The world we live in today is still very much “Pasteurized” as reflected not only in what we do to our milk but also how our modern hospitals function, what products we have in our homes and dump into our toilets. Even people knowledgeable in homeopathy, naturopathy, herbs, supplements, holistic medicine have a difficult time moving away from this Pasteur “good vs bad” way of thinking. I often catch such good people say things like “I have caught this or that bug and it made me so sick”. “I caught it from this animal who is a “carrier” or from this food which was stale, must be the mosquitoes, or the cat or the seafood”.

It comes from all directions and influences us deeply, to the point where we actually come to use the process of comparing ourselves with others (people or species) on a bad versus good scale to “define” ourselves. Sure, if this guy there who I really don’t like is a “bad guy” and I can get enough other people, enough of my friends, the “good guys”, to dislike him as much as I do, and make them say so in public places, then we’re all settled, nice and cosy. We have now defined the clear boundary between the good and the bad. It feels so good to be good.

Recently, we had a bad run of burglaries and assaults here in our small Ecuadorian village. People were very scared. The good guys got together to pro-actively protect themselves against the bad guys. Some of us were attacked and yes, some were injured. I remember comments from others saying that nothing happens out of nothing, that there is always a story behind every story, meaning that these people who were attacked somehow got what they deserved? This is a powerful mechanism for people to classify others. If a rationale can be found to explain that the people being attacked are “bad guys” or at the very least have done some “bad things” and, along that same rationale, I can be found to be a “good guy” and I have not done “bad things”, then I won’t be attacked and therefore I feel safe.

Of course, our leaders, who know what they are doing, some consciously some subconsciously, would not like us to free ourselves from this bi-polar world of good and bad. That is why the school is what it is, the army is what it is, the church is what it is, the workplace is what it is and the world is what it is.

How about movies? Watch any kids’ movie, recent or classic, from Snow White or Cinderella to Dora la Exploradora or the Barbie collection. Bad guys are really bad, I mean, really really bad, usually with a long nose, sharp nails and an evil laugh. Watch grown ups’ movies, with few exceptions, it is the same. We seem to love the comfort of these situations where the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad and where there is no ambiguity. The worse the bad guy is, the worse the things he does to others, the better, provided that before the end, he gets a good kick, burns alive or falls from a crane. The epitome of this is the classic “horror movie” which redefines the bad one step further.

TV news? They are a never ending saga of bad guys causing trouble to good guys.

From birth to school, from family to the workplace, from the church to the doctor’s appointment, from the 6 O’clock news to the blockbuster movie, this dichotomy makes us who we are: beings with tunnel visions and closed hearts.

What if we scrapped all that? Would that be possible? Can one actually make friend with a mosquito, not make any judgment towards a snake, stop blaming one’s dis-eases on some bug, be neither right or wrong, see others as neither right nor wrong either, stop claiming redemption, understanding, comfort. Can we do this? Is it possible?

Pick someone who has hurt you, offended you, done something bad to you. That’s the easy part. Pick a situation where you were obviously in your right, at least according to your own logic. Think of how you reacted. I bet you talked about that person in bad terms to your friends or to others, not necessarily in a blunt and obvious way but maybe in subtle innuendos, or maybe you fail to say something good about that person when you could have or you failed to do something that you could have done. The purpose of these after the facts things that you said or did or did not say or did not do is always the same: prove to yourself that you are right and good and that the other person is wrong and bad, draw that line between good and bad and put yourself on one side of it and the offender on the other side, seek the help of others to achieve that separation. People do that all day long, all over the world, chit chat, such and such, you know what he did to me? Blah blah... viper tongues, all over the planet. It’s the main conversation topic.

Now, next time, try this instead if you can, it is very difficult. Say nothing, absolutely nothing to anyone, not even your spouse. Just wait. If you can, mention that person who hurt you in a positive way. This is the hardest thing to do. I have failed repetitively at it but, at least now, I am aware of it.

Yet, I must say that there is something deeply disturbing in this way of looking at the world that I am describing above. Is it not naive? The problem is the following: evil -is- real, there –are- evil people and organisations out there. What about rape and murder, the torturing of innocents, burnt villages, dropped nuclear bombs?” Is there any possible rationale according to which such events and the people driving them could be considered anything other than bad? And neither are these types of events exceptional. It is simply too easy to find records of all the horrors committed by us on ourselves and other species throughout the ages. So, how do we reconcile this tangible reality of evil at work with another reality that does not put people and things into good and bad boxes?

I don’t claim to have all the answers, this is a difficult subject. If you are Christian, Jesus provided many answers and pointers to help. For example, he preached that anything can be forgiven. And he meant –anything- including being nailed alive on a plank of wood. So why not Hiroshima or your spouse’s latest affair? He also asked to whoever wants to throw the first stone to do it, clearly implying what I have been saying with my own words: that no one should claim being good and accuse of being bad. I am no expert in religions but I know that each one of them addresses the issue of injustice, evil and suffering one way or another.

Outside of the religious sphere, another way to look at things has been brought up by Anita in her latest write up about the Dance Ball.

Here is an excerpt:

... think of a disco ball. You know the ones with all the little square mirrors on them that they hang and turn and that send white dots all over the dance floor. Just hold the image of the ball itself in your mind ... See the small square mirrors on it?

Each square represents a part of your make up. You are made up of the spirit, flowing energy, a higher self, an ego, an alter ego and lots of little egos, conditioning, energy signatures, energy blockages, conditioning patterns, beliefs etc. Each square mirror on that ball represents a part of what makes up the whole of who you are. Each one of us (animals included) is like a dance ball with a thousand square mirrors.

Now pay attention to the fact that we are dealing with a ball. When you look at a ball (don’t turn it, hold it still, just in front of you and look at it) you only see a percentage of its total surface, its face, of what the ball looks like. You cannot see the side that is opposite to the side you are looking at.

When I know you, I know or ‘see’ a group of your mirrors. I see a percentage of what makes up you! I may see a percentage that makes you my friend or someone I love.

Someone else may see a different group of your mirrors and this group combined together makes you someone they don’t like.

We may see a person in a good group of mirrors for some length of time then through events, be they actual or verbal (i.e. gossip), we see another section of mirrors one we hadn’t been aware of before, say a negative section and suddenly that person is reclassified in our mind (by our ego) and they become ‘bad’. We are now focused on another side of their dance ball and have lost sight of the side (good side) we were once focused on.

This is simplistic view as there is no good or bad side just a big mix up of stuff so you usually see a percentage of positive traits of someone and a percentage of a negative traits and the ratio influences how you perceive them. Also, what you consider positive and negative traits will differ from what I say consider positive and negative traits for example. You get my point?

I would add that we also choose to a certain degree which facets of our ball we project to the outside world. The so called “evil people” have chosen to display some really nasty facets of their beings to the world and this is how we come to see them as “bad”. However, for them just like for yourself, this is all relative and all incomplete. What we see of them are only a few facets of their ball and the rest we cannot see nor comprehend. When confronted with evil, we can only be extremely humble because, let's face it, we just don't have a clue!

This good and bad dichotomy is what keeps us where we are, at the bottom of the barrel so to speak, unable to rise and reach our true potentials as a species. Moving away from it is challenging but rewarding. It is also necessary. The first step in this transition is to become aware of when and how we do it. When we become aware, we can then catch ourselves each time as it happens and with practice bite our tongues before we play the same game again.

Only when we can stop drawing that line between good and bad all the time and seeking our friends’ help to put us on the good side of it, only then, can we really grow to our next level as conscious human beings.

If we all were to give up categorizing everything around us into good and bad, two things would happen all over the world:

1.    The world would go silent as we’d have little to talk about. Imagine every moment someone speaks about someone else (or about some entity, being a government, a country or a group of people) in bad terms replaced by an equally long moment of silence! The silence would be deafening. I am sure we’d find other conversation topics though, so nothing to fear.

2.    The forces that keep us at the bottom, where we are, would lose their grip on us. Literally the “matrix” would disintegrate instantly, letting us finally see what lies beyond. Without our need to judge, every sound, every sight, every movement of every life form, no matter how insignificant or disturbing would become an expression of what we ourselves are: infinite life.

It is difficult to comprehend how exactly this would be like but would you not agree that it is likely to be awesome and definitely worth a try?

Try today and see what happens. Let me know. I'd love to be flooded with success stories. I'll post them on this web site.