Good and Evil
Knowledge is a weapon in the hands of the ill intended and some well-intended people.
My experience as a father, teacher, intelligence officer, and administrator in this age of exploding information and unprecedented access to knowledge demonstrates to me that few people are good critical thinkers and readers. Despite our perceived advances in the human condition, we battle the same risks and pitfalls that have existed since the beginning of time. Knowledge in the hands of the presumed well intended often goes terribly wrong. Even well-intended people who gain insight and enlightenment can quickly jump to euphoric notions, such as if others only knew what I know it would save them so much pain, if others only thought or knew this it would save them so much trouble, if people would just listen to me and know what I know they would not get hurt, and so on. This reality robs the people needing knowledge of their dignity and disregards how the enlightened arrived at their so-called enlightenment. All well-intended people can fall into this innocent trap, like a parent trying to save their child from life’s ills or the parent’s mistakes. For the ill-intended person, this human condition is child’s play, and they use this reality as part of their premeditated scheme to gain power, control, and advantage. Too often in history well-intended, euphoric academics and leaders unwittingly become the ill intended’s foot soldiers. My challenge, to myself and the reader, is to discover and sustain ways to teach others how to learn and how to question everything and everyone in a healthy and productive way.
After being a father for 24 years, working as an intelligence officer for 17 years, and teaching for 33 years, I have learned more than I wanted to know about people, education, governance, and ideologies practiced in more than seven countries. In all my experiences, I consistently find a percentage of people who hide their true nature. People of any culture or origin who practice passive aggressive, covert, and outright dishonest methods to teach or to socially engineer people are instruments of evil and the ill intended. To practice covert persuasion, manipulation, and exploitation as tools to change people or cultures even for an alleged just cause ultimately results in injustice. Leaders, teachers, or any person of authority who practice lying and omitting truth to achieve goals are the voices and hands of evil. Such people’s goals, objectives, or concepts always result in harming and killing others. They will use and exploit even the most pure ideals to gain power, control, and advantage. The level of premeditated coercion and manipulation some people are capable of is beyond most people’s imagination. I believe we can and must learn how to protect ourselves from ill-intended people but believe in a starting point that may surprise most people.
Please bear with the assertion for a moment as I frame the paradigm from which I stand. I believe in God as our creator who grants us many gifts and liberties, leaving us to our own free will and individual dignity, which He freely gives to all people, regardless of origin or gender. Here is where I find a fundamental truth regarding the human condition, making all people equally deserving of their own labors’ fruit. This notion provides a cornerstone and building blocks of a free people, which ill-intended people do not want us to know or understand. Yes, there are people in our daily lives who work endlessly to perfect the means and methods to exploit, coerce, and harm people. We have failed to guard ourselves and our children from these ill-intended people and their unwitting, well-intended foot soldiers. History provides cyclical evidence of this. So how do we stop the cycle, the abuse, and the exploitation? Despite our abilities to study and relate these challenges to others it would appear a balance between compassion and standing up for our own dignity and convictions continues to allude even the most enlightened society.
How do we stop this? How do we learn to protect ourselves? How do we maintain principles of how to learn without falling into the well intended’s trap, where they attempt to tell people what they must know? My answer may surprise you: we must unlearn and learn again to love and to forgive. First I believe we need to challenge our understanding of love, especially Christians who have been taught to believe we are only loving if we turn the other cheek and forgive the habitual abuser. For me, love is 99-percent doing and 1-percent feeling. I cannot earn it or achieve it. Love is given freely, providing us the opportunity to heal, grow, learn, and positively impact all those around us. If I do not take action, if I do not act and interact with those around me in a way that promotes life, growth, and learning, I could say I love others to the end of time, but I will have loved no one. To be loving we must have an understanding of values like commitment, grace, liberty, dignity, and compassion. A one-sided, happy-go-lucky, everything is rose’s paradigm is false and ultimately destructive. People who say anything goes, it is all okay, nothing really matters, or I just want to keep people happy are in reality the antithesis of love.
Most people strive for the highest ideal regarding how we are to treat even our enemy. Many people are taught from early childhood the virtues and ideals that are as righteous and selfless as Jesus taught. However, we are often only taught half the lesson; ill-intended leaders over thousands of years have intended this. We must challenge ourselves to understand some additional principles of love, which I believe Jesus taught. In human nature’s midst, we must maintain a balance between self-awareness—understanding our personal contribution to positive and negative outcomes—and learning how to tell others no, stop, or even be gone. We must learn how to be honest, yet not cruel.
This brings us to step two. I believe we must challenge our understanding of forgiveness and forgiving. How are we coping with those who habitually cause harm? Whose place is it to forgive? What part do we play in forgiveness? I suggest to you that we must peel away the scales from our eyes—not just the eyes we see with but the eyes of our mind. I believe we must challenge our understanding of forgiveness so we are able to correctly identify and respond to those who intend harm and coerce us with false teachings.
Forgiveness requires the offender’s action. Forgiving requires the offended’s action. The first action, asking for forgiveness, must take place to even consider the act of forgiving. Without the action of asking first, the actions of the second become arrogant and narcissistic. Further, I suggest these habitual offenders are in God’s hands, and our obligation stops at praying that God is merciful with them. The habitual offenders define themselves, proving their ill intent by their own hands. The notion that some individual or group has the power to forgive those who do not seek forgiveness is deluded and conspires against God and our Lord and Savior Jesus. We have no real control or power to mitigate the natural consequences of another person’s poor choices, unhealthy behaviors, or ill intentions. If we believe it is our place to fix or mitigate negative outcomes for ill-intended people, we are not loving or forgiving. In turn, if we do not rebuke ill-intended people who exploit the innocent, our wrong is graver than the ill-intended person’s.
I believe we must challenge our understanding of love and forgiveness if we are to discover how to learn. We must be willing to question everything and everyone if we are to stop the exploitation of good and decent people. We must practice and teach healthy understandings of love and learn our true role in forgiveness if we are to discern between those in our lives who help us to grow and those who intend harm. More dangerous than any other weapon is the individual who is able to skillfully craft a false narrative, manipulate a chain of events, or exploit the masses’ emotions to achieve an agenda that he or she touts as being for the greater good, when in truth it is for the sole purpose of destroying, killing, or controlling others. If you do not believe these ill-intended people exist, I believe you—as the reader—provide the very evidence which substantiates my claim.
Phillip C. Parrish
31 May 2015