Posted by: Judy | April 14, 2015

Meme debunking…

I love C.S. Lewis, but this recent meme going around is starting to grate on my nerves: “Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.”

I endeavor to explore every possible way a meme could be interpreted. No matter how I turn it, the meaning circles back to the same thing.

This puts all responsibility on good people to be compassionate and understanding and removes all responsibility from those who choose evil.

It starts young and continues throughout life: You make choices every day, good or evil, right or wrong. I think some bad people lie to themselves until they believe their own hype. However, there are also bad people who know they are bad and prefer the payoff of being bad over what they perceive as the sacrifice of being good.

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Responses

  1. “If I do it, I get a whippin’, I do it.” Sometimes people make evil choices knowing they are choosing evil.

    • Yes.

  2. I see what you mean; it does put responsibility on those that understand both. My IL’s laugh when the get out of doing stuff for others or get someone else to do the work for them. Sometimes manipulation is enjoyable and feels ‘good’ to some.

    • It’s a “feels good right now” effect. It’s also shortsighted. Then they complain and can’t understand why people don’t trust them or avoid them. “It’s their problem.” Actually, they recognized the manipulator is the problem, and they’ve walked away. Sadly, I used to do this, a lot. I had good teachers. However, I knew it was wrong, and I didn’t like myself for it. I chose to change.

  3. This makes me think of how the bad guys are the good guys in their own narrative.

    I don’t think CS Lewis is saying that evil people aren’t responsible. I think he’s saying they are incapable of understanding the difference between good and evil because for them it is what they want vs who or what is in the way of that. And it is better for the good people to realize what they are dealing with than for them to waste time trying to make the evil people see the error of their ways. Evil should be held accountable for the bad they do, I just don’t think we should expect them to be contrite about it.

    • YES! Great point! THAT makes sense. Thanks, Judith!

  4. Also (you’ve got me thinking šŸ™‚ ), I agree with people sliding down the slippery slope into evil behavior. I think my father has fallen into that trap in his enabling of my mother. He’s not evil, but he has participated in my mother’s evil.

    • True. I have to remind myself that EF is the healthier of the two, but he’s still a participant in NM’s behavior by his enabling behavior.

  5. I did a bit of searching to see if I could find the context of the quote and I got this:

    “Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.”

    I’m not sure he was excusing evil but more like describing it. I’d be interesting to see how he continued the text. I’ll see if I can find it in his book. The quote comes from his book “Mere Christianity)

    • Thank you ((kara)) for doing the homework! Context really does matter. “Mere Christianity” is actually on my TBR (To Be Read) list. I’m moving it higher on the list. šŸ™‚

      • You’re welcome ((Judy)) I found the book on pdf on google books. Here is the link (hope it works šŸ™‚ )

        https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ENwsg4McrcI-l9w_KH_JrzfWkxfC2S3fZjY5lxiuZKw/edit?hl=es

        I found the page where he wrote that quote but that was the end of the chapter which is a shame because I would have liked him to expand on it a bit more, but like I said before, I get very much the impression -from the bits I read- that he was simply describing a process rather than excusing evil people.

        • Thank you! I suspect he expanded on it in “The Screwtape Letters.” I was reading it and was distracted… actually, I was reading it with a friend. I need to finish it for myself.


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