Friday, 25 November 2011

Can A Bad Person Be Good?

I've talked before about how if a bad situation ultimately results in a good one, can it still be considered a bad situation but now I'm going to talk about if this can apply to people as well. Is it possible for someone who is considered evil to also be considered good?

One person who always comes to mind when people think of things like this is Hitler, who was an vegetarian, animal loving, Christian. Although because I've mentioned Hitler, as per Godwin's Law I have lost the argument. Godwin's Law (of the net at least) states that the longer an argument goes on, the more likely someone will call comparison to the Nazi's, and the moment that person does, they lose the argument.

But, Hitler was a pretty bad guy (if you really really really don't know why, stab your history teacher), but like I said, he had less than evil qualities too. Can he really be all that bad a guy? Well, yes, but he was quite an extreme example.

Let's say there's a racist (not Hitler) who donates regularly to charity, who volunteers his time, and tries to spread his wealth as much as possible. Should we judge him solely because he is a racist? Should we judge him on his more charitable deeds? Should we judge him on everything he does rather than either just the negative or good sides? Is he still a good member of society, because he gladly gives his time and money to those who need it, or is he inherently evil because of his particular beliefs?

By the way I realise that I volunteer my time, but I don't give to charity, so I'm not secretly admitting to being a racist and being scared of whether or not I'm actually a decent member of society. I know I'm not.

23 comments:

  1. I like to think there is good in all people, somewhere. But some people have a capacity for evil that cancels out any good qualities.
    A man who goes to church and appears to his community as a decent man, but has his daughter locked in a cellar as a sex slave is evil. No ifs or buts, no matter how much money he puts in the plate.

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  2. @Mynx I wouldn't be able to try to justify that no matter how much I tried, so I won't. But I do think there is even just a tiny bit of good in nearly everyone.

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  3. It's our tolerance levels I believe, most of us try to be good or decent but a situation can come up where we do the unspeakable to protect or defend what's ours or what's loved and then try to return to the normality...it's hard to achieve.

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  4. You have presented a good argument here. A bad person can have "good" qualities. With that being said, how do you know which qualities to apply when making your initial judgement?

    This also creates another argument and that is...what gives us the right to judge? For example, say you hear a rumor that a person is a rapist or something along those lines. You immediately label this person bad based upon what you think you know. The word spreads and everyone believes that he/she is a bad person. As a result, the person who people "think" is bad spends the rest of their life isolated and alone, simply because people have made their judgements before they even know the person or even know the truth behind the rumor.

    The moral of my point is simple...don't judge people, plain and simple. I don't think any of us have the right to make judgements. People will be judged soon enough when they stand before God on the day of their judgement!

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  5. @The Angry Lurker That is pretty true. There are times when we see something we want to protect, and we'll do anything we can to do so, and sometimes we pick the wrong things to protect, or the wrong way to do it.

    @Danjor21 You make another excellent point, and one I agree with. The simple answer is to not judge, but judging people is in our nature, and we can make presumptions about people that lead us to not want to know more about them. The person you shunned because you heard something bad about, may have been a major person in your life if you got to know them.

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  6. well, mostly it depends on what basis a person judges another. a very popular example of 'bad' people in my country are the politicians. they're well known for embezzling and bribing and stealing, hence being labeled as 'corrupt'. but some of these politicians have done a lot of charity work, built hospitals, provided employment to people and are generally coveted among the followers of the political parties. it's quite a thought-provoking question you asked. great post!

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  7. We shouldn't judge him for being a racist, but we should tell him to play nice and fair with everybody, right?

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  8. @Furree Kat Thanks, I think it's been a while since I did something really thought provoking. To me, if those politicians are being generally nice and doing good things like that, I could probably tolerate the way they got into power, it's the age old question of "Does the end justify the means?". Our politicians are corrupt, but are also total assholes who don't do anything good, so we just see them as assholes.

    @Fang Probably, we should at least attempt to show him how other cultures are good, but we cannot force him to change his ways.

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  9. this is the hardest so far. it really made me think somehow and came up with nothing much really. well, there's one thing though. some people do have this mentality that doing something bad makes them popular, (which I believe, it's a fact) and you know, when you do lots of good things+1 very little evil thing..the one that people remembers you is the evil one..so, I don't think if I explained it well..haha! fine. I'll get back to you after I can think things over-hopefully tomorrow before I will fly to Manila. haha! sorry. this one is really tough =))

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  10. YES. Everyone deserves a second chance..

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  11. Donating to charaties means nothing. Most charities miss use their money or don't fight the problem but in stead cover the problem like a useless bandaid.
    Disiding to hate some group of people for an arbitrary reason is more stupid then evil/bad.
    The world and the people in it really shouldn't be looked at as good or bad but instead as informed or uninformed.
    Hitler was a fool. He pushed his anger about his own life on to other people who didn't deserve the anger. He became self obsessed and arogant thinking he was supirior and trying to make himself as the sole success of a group of people (when he had people who had helped him gain power killed) and did other arogant and dumb things that when looked at from a psychological standpoint point to the obvious things the uninformed will fall victum to!
    (seriously Mark? Ad lines in my comment as I'm commenting? Maybe there is evil and its you!!)

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  12. Now it depends, is the racist doing this out of pure goodness, or just to make himself look good? I know a lot of bad people that do 'good things' just so they look good, but in reality, they don't give a shit about the people they're helping. It's just all about the positive publicity. Which is definitely not 'good.'

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  13. First off, it's a fine line mentioning Hitler in any argument. He was completely evil and warped in his views yet you have to admit that he is well known as a great public speaker who was able to get his own way so easily.

    I don't think doing "good things" makes you a good person though. Being a good or bad person is in our genes I believe. Nurture can affect us but if we are born good then being brought up by assholes won't affect who we are because we were ultimately born good. Does that make any sense?!

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  14. @Mai Yang lol I don't think you can get a clear answer, but you're right in that "The evil that men do lives on". We remember more the bad things people have done, than the good ones.

    @Tim I agree everyone deserves a second chance, but is it possible to do bad deeds as well as good deeds and be regarded as a good person?

    @Bersercules Yes I'm deliciously evil lol. It's happened to me a few times and I hate it too, don't worry. I'm surprised you aren't complaining about power saving again after a comment that long. It would be nice if we could abandon the concept of good or bad, but even if we got rid of religion (which I'm not for at all, getting rid of it that is, I think religion can be a pretty good thing) then we would STILL see things in a good or bad sense. Hitler was more misinformed and arrogant than evil though, I'll agree there.

    @ABFTS This is another excellent point. There are plenty of bad people who do things just to look good, and this is actually more dickish than being a dick.

    @Hazel He was incredibly charismatic that's for sure, and like I said, Godwin's Law prevents the use of Hitler, or at east deters it. That's a decent way to look at it, I know someone who was abused by their dad, and their brother turned into a dick, while they remained good. So I think those two are a good example of that, and I had never really thought of it like that. That's one reason I love these kinds of posts, it opens my own mind as well as yours.

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  15. I don't think you can label a person either good or bad, black or white because it's a really grey area.

    I honestly think all of us are grey people.

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  16. @DWei That's pretty accurate too. There's no truly good or bad person, we are all grey.

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  17. I believe about duality, noone is either good or bad but there are situations where one part eats the other one, sometimes you cannot go back, sometimes you can.

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  18. @Orang3 In my darkest times I wonder if I can go back.

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  19. Well, first off, your used Godwin's Law incorrectly there. The Law states that the longer an argument goes on the greater the chance one of the participating parties will be likened to a Nazi. Just *mentioning* Nazis does nothing to invoke the Law itself.

    As always you have some insightful thoughts, friend. It might interest you to know that you've actually beaten me to the punch on posting on this exact subject matter. As such, you'll get a 'reply' of sorts from me in the form of a full post which I'll link back to this one at a later time. (O_<)-b

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  20. bad people can do good, but they cannot be good. all your bad actions/intentions outweighs your good ones.

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  21. I thought it still stated that whoever mentions Hitler loses. So cheers for clearing that up. lol Sorry to steal your thunder, I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the matter.

    @Kid Shuffle But at the same time, good actions outweigh bad ones.

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  22. @My 2 Pesos Well that is another sadly true observation.

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