Lightside and Darkside – more useful than Good and Evil?

Poetry

I realised something today, about myself. About how easily and readily I have fooled and continue to fool myself when it comes to social interactions I’ve had with people. How afraid I am of attributing the exact amount of blame I’m due when I’ve done something bad, how afraid I am of praising myself of feeling happy when I’ve done well. The realisation came whilst I was thinking over what happened with an ex-girlfriend from a year ago. I’ve wanted her to be wrong so much this past year. I’ve wanted her to be wrong in what she did to me then and how she’s ignored me since. But my way of reasoning has always told me “No. You know she only acted in a way that she deemed appropriate. You must have played some part in encouraging her. It wouldn’t all have been whatever other shit was going on in her life. Understand it. Move on.” Until today, I had always told myself “some part, I must have played some part”. Today I remembered some of the important specific things I did wrong. And I’m almost horrified that it’s taken over a year for them to float back into my memory.

Long story short, I was in a bit of a bad place. I was a history student and still am by heart. I also flirted with Marxism and Socialism, so I was interested in revolutions as a historical phenomenon. Pretty quickly I learnt what so many writers of the past have explained – that revolutions are painful processes that don’t always seem to yield beneficial results. I think they usually do, eventually. But more in the sense of helping the evolution of a society rather than necessarily achieving exactly what they wanted, when they wanted. I’m telling you this so you can understand what I mean when I say I was having a revolution within myself. I went from being a straight, pagan, communist with socialist sympathies and university student, to being bisexual, anarchist (more libertarian than socialist and revolutionary) and unemployed. I’m a weird guy, yes. But gimmie a little more time. The ‘revolution’ in me was happening exactly as I was going out with this woman. My work was suffering so I could spend more time blogging, reading anarchist literature, and spending time with Flavia – the Woman. It could suffer because, ungrateful bastard that I am, I don’t particularly care about fulfilling my destiny, getting a degree, and working a nice little earner until I’m “comfortable”. But it was still and is still painful to leave the intensely academic environment I’ve grown up in and so alienate myself somewhat from the many good friends I’ve made in that environment.

I was making stupid decisions. I only let that slide because it’s in the past and I believe that the past is the past. We ideally wouldn’t hold people to account for what they’ve done, only who they are. And it’d be our responsibility to understand them and stop them from doing stupid shit if stupid shit is what they’re doing. I don’t expect everyone to forgive all the evil of the past, but I do reckon we’d all feel better if we could/did. Anyway, bad place. I’m still recovering from all that. I regularly tell myself I’m insane, and sometimes ‘joke’ that I’m a monster because of how certain people view me. Which is how I come to the Light and Dark scale. I had a moment the other day when I wanted to give up on everything I’ve ever believed in – that is, doing good, being kind, making people happy, doing your best. The terms I used were along the lines of “embracing the darkness so it can’t hurt me anymore, but it can still hurt other people”. This was another important thing for me since before that thought I’d never understood the ‘lure’ of the Dark Side in all my Star Wars games as I kid. Well, now I do. I still hate it, but I’ve been tempted.

I reckon light and dark might be more useful than good an evil as, to me, it suggests a common goal with two very different ways of getting there. Good and evil or good and bad on the other hand suggests one goal and only one way of getting there, evil being just plain wrong. Not to say that the dark isn’t supposed to be evil. It’s just that light and dark seem both to be ways of dealing with the unknown: the darkness. You can try to lose your fear of it by adopting it, revelling in it, even propagating it and feeling powerful in doing so – the Dark Side. Or you can try to lose your fear of it by battling it, lighting it up, revealing, dispelling – the Light Side. With good and evil, you either do good and get rewards, or you do bad and you get punished. It doesn’t really try to suggest a common goal unless that goal is in the relatively vague land of personal benefit – it seems more…simplistic, perhaps, in its terms. Look, light and dark have been around since long before Star Wars. My message is that maybe they talk about the essential content of life better than the traditional good versus evil. They talk about what were doing with ourselves – seeking security and happiness in understanding.

But now that I consider it I’m going to end up, like I always did in my essays, trying to come down somewhere in the middle. Light and dark emphasises a key part of our lives: dealing with the unknown. It also makes hints towards good and evil. Good and evil on the other hand emphasises what we should try to achieve in terms of the quality of our actions. It suggests that we should always pursue the best course, whatever that may be, because that is ‘good’ and things which are less beneficial are ‘bad or evil’. Even evil folk won’t tend to describe what they’re doing as evil. Gordon Gecko famously said “Greed is good” not “Greed is evil, ain’t it wonderful?”. Both focus on striving though. One for understanding, which implies betterment, and one for betterment, which implies understanding.

Sigh. Does any of this make any useful sense? Probably not. I’m going to try to write something every day. It might be a bit like a diary. It might be like the Metaphysical Meanderings section I had in an old blog. It might be reviews. It might be all of those. I don’t know. I’m just going to try to keep writing for a while.

Light and dark? Good and evil? It all depends on where you’re sitting.

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