Excerpts from my comments in Google Wave discussion on the topic ‘Are people basically good, evil, or neutral?

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Good/evil may be attributed (it is another matter whether such an attribution is actually true but I believe we tend to do if only for convenience… collective conscious and conscience) to any entity that we happen to interact with. That entity could be an individual, organization, nation or any social grouping. Value system and circumstances determine their external behavior. Largely, we consider an individual in interaction with another but there are times when we need to consider individual in interaction with collective psyche of a group. We may face it when we move from one organization to another, one nation to another where acceptable behavioral patterns have changed and almost predictable reactions no longer hold true.

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Don’t we get a common behavior patterns based on social values within a society? For instance, Socrates or Galileo living in modern times (I am moving on time to stay clear of political and other possible interpretations/repercussions (on senstive lines), if any, on commenting on social groups of now) would have had a different experience. A group of people, group based on organization, religion, ethnicity etc, may represent a common social values and behavior patterns. What I am referring to is neither individual being a society or vice versa but rather society (of various levels of granularity) and individual being examples/instances of entities with common values and behavioral patterns.

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I am yet to meet a person who is 100% good or 100% evil. That leads me to assume that there are shades of good and evil in everyone, though there may be difference in i) degree of goodness and ii) impact on environment (eg. hard to an individual, a group or the whole population itself).

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I think, it is all the more important as interactions from diverse cultural background is increasing in daily life. I find it important from three perspectives, i) self check and improvement ii) quality of social life (improving social awareness), and iii) getting to know people better. My earlier question on intention/action/experience was from the third perspective. Caring at a very personal level may be welcome in one group but as intrusion to privacy in another, especially when compromise on privacy makes one vulnerable. Danger is, action with good intention is perceived as evil, and consistent suppression of action with good intention may have an adverse effect, I think it is important in emerging social scene were globe is turning out to be a cultural melting pot.Cultural fusion has taken place many times in the past but scale is different now

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think intent/need to dominate/harm comes out of weakness; result of a scar from the past, than a natural state of mind… probably the spirit behind the advice “Thou shalt love thy enemy”

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accept role of competition but I believe role of collaboration is equally important. It is a mix that works, I suppose. If my understanding is right, evolutionary theory itself is undergoing revisions, from where Darwin left. Even by Darwin’s theory, I believe what survives is the fittest (fittest is not necessarily the mightiest). There is tension in social behavior but there is an element of fun as well

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When  it comes to human behavior, both intent and action are influenced (not necessarily determined) by social environment. It is difficult to isolate as we would do in science (like separating an element from a compound or a mixture). One such occassion when we get very close to it is when one is extremely happy or absolutely lost. What does one do then? Does he/she intent to harm/help? Does she/he end up harming/helping? Perhaps that determines the person as good or evil; or how much of both shades… my gut feel is, one would be neutral (not inactive; rather unmindful) or helpful

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I am afraid defining adversary/opponent/enemy as evil can lead to violent consequences. I believe we need to more accomodative in dynamically balancing different opinion and positions in a democratic world

One Response to “Excerpts from my comments in Google Wave discussion on the topic ‘Are people basically good, evil, or neutral?”

  1. Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda Says:

    To handle yourself use your head,
    To handle others use your heart.

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