People: Good, Evil or Neutral?


I’m pretty sure one of my opinions goes against what most people think about a certain issue.

This isn’t usually the case because a) I’m not an opinionated person and b) the opinions I do have don’t tend to make any ripples. I have an agreeable nature and it’s for this reason that I feel like I shouldn’t have the opinion I have or at least shouldn’t share it. I don’t like to cause rifts and I avoid conflict like the plague; they just don’t make me feel good. Plus, I am very aware I might be wrong.

So please don’t hate me for having my opinion. If I could change my opinion so we could agree, I would seriously consider it. But I can’t shake what I really think. Even if I wanted to, I know deep down this is what I believe:

I believe in the fundamental goodness of people. I know not one of us is good all the time—we have all had bad thoughts and habits, we have all said and done bad things—and I know some people seem to spend more time being bad than good, but just as no human (who wasn’t also God) is purely good, I don’t believe any human can be purely evil. Even if a person seems like they have no good in them, I don’t believe anyone is a lost cause. I believe everyone can choose to do good no matter how much bad they’ve done.

The people who don’t know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, I don’t think this a fault of their own—not entirely anyway. I’d think genetics and things like bad influences and traumatic experiences would play a role.

How do you define “evil” anyway? Is it intentionally doing the wrong thing? Is it doing the wrong thing when you believe you’re doing the right thing? Is it the motivation for doing the wrong thing? For example, is it evil to do the wrong thing for personal gain? And is it evil to do the wrong thing for the good of others? Does context and circumstance always come into it?

I’m not sure how I define “evil” but for some reason this is my opinion: Hitler wasn’t evil. I know lots of people will disagree with me and I fully understand why. Part of me wonders why on earth I would believe he wasn’t evil. But it’s just the way it is. I believe he did a lot of horrible things that were wrong and shouldn’t have been done. I believe he did these things on such a scale that might lead people to conclude that he himself was evil. I totally get that, and like I said, part of me wishes I could agree with you.

I can’t fully explain why I have my opinion, but there it is. Especially considering I’m a naturally pessimistic person, you’d think I’d say he was evil.

So here are some questions to think about: Are people good, bad or neutral? What makes a person good or evil? Does it have to do with actions, motivations and/or the beliefs of a person?

4 responses »

  1. I see it in a much more nondualistic manner. Within human nature, there is both good and bad and neutral. Humans may behave differently depending upon what situation they may be in, yes? From one perspective and witnessing only one occurence, some one may appear evil, but in quite a different situation would appear good and yet another neutral. Reality can be perceived as quite static (when in actuality it could be a dynamic array of happenings, of prolonged Nows), so can appear on one level as good, bad, or neutral. But really, all three exist simultaneously, as well as others along a spectrum of human characteristics and traits.

  2. Once again this is about labeling, something people seem to love to do. We simply are not labels. The word ‘evil’, in my opinion, has been co-opted by religions and no longer can be used by its strict definition of ‘being harmful or tending to harm’. In the strict form of the word, Hitler, and many others are evil but since people can’t think of the term evil outside of supernatural forces than it is no longer a term that should be used, period.

    Okay, enough said on that. Labeling simplifies things and people like simple. That is why black-and-white thinking is so prevalent. However, people are not simple, they are very complicated. Life is complicated, and quite messy at times and typically lives in the grey area. When I was much younger I saw everything with clearly defined lines: good, bad, right, wrong, etc. To keep my sanity I still think like that for some things but clearly life has no lines. There are multiple ways to look at situations, things and most of all people. And cultures play a big part.

    I consider myself very fortunate because I have friends from multiple cultures and most of them are willing to discuss cultural differences so we can all understand one another. What might seem completely idiotic and demeaning in one culture could be a sign of great respect in another. Without communication, understanding and realization that life is beyond our own little border, people get tunnel vision and society falls apart.

    I feel one of the big problems of today is labeling and tunnel vision.

    • I love your thoughtful comments!
      I actually love labels. It goes with my ISTJ brain. I just love categories and definitions, etc.
      But I don’t love them when they’re not helpful or accurate. It defeats the purpose then and causes harm as you say.
      I think good and evil is still helpful but as long as we understand there is a whole lot of grey, especially when everyone has their own definitions.
      It’s all the questions of morals. Some people are means to ends people, others aren’t, and some will change opinion depending on the context so it’s very fluid.
      I love that you have friends from different cultures and can discuss these deep things with them. I love hearing different perspectives and have a greater understanding for all people. Love it. Wish I could have those conversations all the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s