Why it’s necessary to redefine the concepts of good and evil

Sabrina Suen, Opinion Editor

Polarization and demonization are so common in today’s politics that we have almost become immune to it. We hardly blink an eye as partisanship, Democrats and Republicans alike, paint each other as the devils of American. Yet, our politicians are so caught up in their own paths to get ahead that they do not seem to care how dangerous this kind of rhetoric is.
It’s easy to see the world as black and white, good and evil. We prefer to see right and wrong as solid, impenetrable boxes that we can define by our own societally and culturally driven ideals. It’s much harder for us to accept that within the light there is darkness; it’s even harder for us to accept that within darkness there is always light.
We forget that humanity is a complex and seriously flawed species. We make choices out of morality, selfishness and fear. We make choices for power, for duty and for love. And behind each of these decisions is a principal that drives us.
When we settle for seeing the world as absolutes of good and evil, we create dangerous categories that we try to organize people in. It is the reason why during the cold war we so mercilessly persecuted communists. It is the reason why during World War II we threw every Japanese person in sight into internment camps. It’s also the concept because why we overgeneralize Muslims into terrorists.
I understand why people are uncomfortable to acknowledge the gray nature of humanity. In order to be able to accept that evil people like Hitler perhaps had good qualities involves challenging our own perceptions of ourselves. If someone so evil had the potential for good, then all good people have the great potential for evil, even ourselves. This makes us deeply fearful.
Yet perhaps the best way to stay away from the darkness is to accept that it is not something we should be afraid of; but rather, something we can learn from. From the darkness we can see the possibility of redemption and from the light we can learn the meaning of forgiveness.
We cannot keep defining good and evil as absolutes because it demonizes those we do not understand. Perhaps through the acceptance of a gray world we can learn understanding and see ourselves in a new light.