Monthly Archives: May 2016

Free Will and Harm

The thing about Utopia’s is that they are, by definition, totalitarian. Everyone in it has to agree that the way things are done are the way they must be done. Any conflict gets introduced, someone says “No, this is not right”, and the whole thing gets ripped apart.

Let’s use Adam and Eve as a metaphorical frame work.

God would let Adam and Eve live in The Garden forever, without want or pain or suffering, as long as they obeyed his command to not eat of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

They disobeyed. Suffering came into the world. Utopia was destroyed by conflict.

Yet, there were benefits from this too.

For one thing, no longer being immortal, humans had to reproduce, which meant children and families.

And, in a world where evil is possible, good is also possible.

Where you can fail, you can also succeed.

And of course, where you can choose what to do, you can choose to do harm.

That’s what it meant to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil, to know choice, and to have the ability to do harm.

But, it always seems like doing harm get’s chosen so much more. Maybe it’s confirmation bias on my part, or that evil travels so much better than good. But it seems that those who are supposed to be good, Clergy, Officers of The Law, Politicians, are the most vicious monsters of all. The cloak of good hides a pleathora of evil. And those who genuinely do good get ground under mercilessly.

For life to have choice, it looks to me, means that life for most is like filled with pain.

But, Utopia is it’s own kind of monster.

Returning again to Adam and Eve. I saw this movie once called Adam and Eve vs. The Cannibals. It hewed real close to the biblical tale until the expulsion from The Garden, at which the movie just gets weird.

But while Adam and Eve are still in The Garden, there is a part where The Serpent has started to try and tempt Eve into eating The Forbidden Fruit, and Adam is trying to talk her out of it, talking about how disobeying God would lead to them being kicked out of their paradise. To this Eve angrily retorts:

“What am I going to do? Watch another sunset? Take another bath?”

The chose seems to be stasis and therefore atrophy and boredom, or a chance to grow, but also to be snuffed out.

If we have choice, by definition we have the ability to do harm. Harm is a heavy metal concert next to one woman singing a lullabye on an acoustic guitar; the quiet and the good is drowned out by the loudness of harm. Harm dominates everything we see, just blanks out all the good.

But sometimes, the good does shine through. And with the ability to do harm is also the ability to love and help and nurture.

We die, but we get children and families. We hurt, but we can comfort and find solace in those who love us. We can do harm, but we can also fight it.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”—–Leonard Cohen, Anthem