Does goodness truly exist? This might seem like an odd question that shouldn't need many words to answer. The obvious and simplest answer to the question is simply to say yes, goodness exists. We see it everyday, we feel it, we read about it, most of us do our best to share it. But what is really good, and conversely what is evil? Are they always clear and distinguishable, can we always judge without question? This question is actually what forms the foundation for The Incarnations of Joe Series.
Some things in life are unquestionably acts of either goodness, or unkind at the very least. But before you put every action carried out by any individual into either the "good" basket, or the "evil" basket, first consider motivation. If you're walking down a street and see a homeless person begging for change and you want to ignore them, but something pulls on your heart and compels you to return and spare some change. Was your action truly for the benefit of the homeless person? Or was your action more about removing the guilt you would have felt if you had not? I have seen the celebrity, or the millionaire business man throw pocket change (thousands of dollars) to charities and have no real impact to their life, except that they often receive the praise and adornment of others. Does it have to really "hurt" to be generous and good?
Lets take a different approach. Speeding in your car, bad right? How about to rush someone to a hospital? Well then it's likely acceptable. How about hitting someone, obviously bad, unless they are mugging an old lady, then it would be considered good, by some at least. Even the act of killing someone can be twisted by circumstance, or "perspective". In a war killing is considered a necessity, and acceptable as long as you follow the rules of course. And if your house is broken into, then in self defense, as long as your force is "reasonable" and "necessary" society will usually cut you some slack.
Now lets take a third angle when looking at this question. What if the action stays the same, but we change our perspective of how we see that action. Think of any war in history. We always have at least two sides. Both sides always feel they are right, or at least justified, and they always feel the other side has done more "evil" than our own. If you talk to one side they will tell you the evil atrocities, the lack of compassion, and the ruthlessness of the enemy. They will tell you how they have suffered, and how they have shown restraint. I have no doubt you'll be willing to join the cause against the evil enemy they face. What if you paused for a moment, and spoke to the other side. I'm sure you'd hear countless tails of evil and wrongdoing committed against them, by the very people you were about to join arms with. As the lyric from the Buffalo Springfield song says "nobodies right if every bodies wrong". Have you ever considered how many of histories great moments would sound if told by the other side? The problem with history is that the victor is usually the one who writes it. As a Canadian I have been told since birth about the great Canadian men from WW1 and WW2, and how they fought an evil across the ocean. Canadians fought with dignity and courage greater than any other. My own ancestors fought these wars, and I have considered how uncomfortable it might make me to watch a movie, or read a book written from the other side of those conflicts, that portrays Canadians as anything less than what I have been taught.
Many, in fact most people who have read book one The Key from the Incarnations of Joe series at some point begin to believe the book is beginning to reverse what we believe to be good and evil. As the author I can say that I understand, and to some degree intended for readers to have this experience, but I have in no way even within the fiction of the story changed good and evil. What is different about The Incarnations of Joe, book one The Key is nothing more than the perspective of some of the characters. Nothing is more universally good and evil, than God and the Devil. Not even within a fictitious world do I intend to change this. I did however consider what it would be like to hear words spoken from the other side, a different set of facts, a different view on events. Much of the dialog in The Key comes from a character who is the devils daughter in the flesh. Her views and her agenda are her own, and they tend to make us uncomfortable, in the same way hearing anything that suggested our side in the great wars was anything less than history has written.
We can take our thoughts, and our philosophy to so many places. Fortunately as we live our lives each day we can keep life simple. Good and evil, right and wrong don't have to be complicated, but that doesn't make them universally easy to follow either.
The Blog of Timothy Weatherall
Timothy Weatherall is a fiction fantasy writer from Ontario, Canada.
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