Given the choice to do good or evil, a good person would likely always choose to do good, but that is only one aspect of the choices we face. Another aspect is the ease or difficulty with which we can carry out our choices. When doing good means climbing a mountain and doing evil means eating a hearty breakfast and spending the day golfing, choosing good and choosing evil aren’t simply that.

Choosing is simply selecting one of two abstractions. It takes only a thought. Climbing a mountain is grueling. A nice breakfast and golf is, for some people, the ideal way to spend a day. If the two choices did not have good and evil implications, the choosing would be as easy as the choice between abstract good and abstract evil.

“Good or evil” is a binary selection, but in the real world, we face the task of doing this so called “good” and this so called “evil” in a non-binary way, with other paradigms, such as easy and hard, cheap and expensive, simple and complex, known and unknown, etc. superimposed over the choice. And, that has yet to consider the magnitude of the outcome.

When we consider the magnitude, the grandness of our choice, of the effect of that choice, we might find that doing good isn’t really “worth” the effort. We might find ourselves wondering, “Why should I crucify myself for someone or something else?”. The greater our sacrifice to do good, the smaller the effect of our choice, the more we’d probably find ourselves wondering this. We are, after all, worth something, too. We are at least worth all the good we might do, which leaves us with the dilemma of sacrificing our capacity to do a greater good later for a lesser good now. Can there be an easy answer?

After all the hand wringing and pacing and pondering, we may not even do the good we intend to do. There is risk; there is uncertainty in the outcome. I may choose to pull the trigger, but I may simply miss what I was aiming for. I may decide to climb the mountain, but I may also fail to climb the mountain. I may even fall and injure myself or be destroyed outright.

In this context, it makes more sense why so many people make choices that are, on their surface, “evil”. In many instances, we are simply mistaking an “easy” choice, a “simple” choice, a “more certain” choice, a “less expensive” choice, a “less frightening” choice, etc. for a morally “bad” choice.


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