Do you think you are a good person? In a world that isn’t inherently black and white, we can find ourselves playing on both sides of the good and evil fence according to the situations we are placed in. No one truly thinks they are the villain because they are abiding by their own moral and ethical codes.
But what if we are the villain? What if the decisions we make to harm people based on our own judgment of their character, their morals, and their wrongdoings makes us evil? We may think we are justified in our actions as the Bible says,
“Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death.” -Lev. 24:19–21
But “an eye for an eye makes the world blind.” By serving our own justice, we are merely becoming the villains we seek to vanquish and subsequently harming more than we are bringing to justice. Friedrich Nietzsche is a philosopher known for the following quote:
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
Those of us who choose to fight what we perceive as evil are merely peering over the edge of what we can become. Eventually, there comes a time when the lines of good and evil are blurred, and the superhero becomes the villain without a noticeable change in pace.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? (Who will guard the guards themselves?) -Juvenal, the Roman Poet, Satire VI, lines 347–348
If we are all abiding by our own code, serving justice where we see fit, can you see how the lines of good and evil become grayed? Who is to say that the ones serving justice in the name of revenge, in the name of love, in the name of their political power, in the name of their god, are wrong? Who watches the watchmen? Who holds the monsters accountable?
So is it good to harm bad people? Should we kill murderers? Should we castrate rapists? If given the opportunity to “right a wrong” that you saw committed, would you gaze deeply into the abyss and become a monster yourself? This topic is extremely painful for me to discuss regarding war and revenge and sexual assault and revenge. After seeing war, and feeling the rage of wanting to murder and “right a wrong”, I believe this topic of philosophy is very important to discuss (See Chapters 23, 24, and soon to come 36 and 37 of The Breaking of the Innocent). Perhaps I can convince friends to stop becoming the monsters they so desperately seek to vanquish.
Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game for a group of people who go on adventures. Each character type can be put into an alignment of moral code varying from chaotic good to lawful neutral. Are you good or evil? Are you lawful or are you chaotic? Will you steal from the rich and give to the poor? Will you murder a rapist? Everyone can find that they fall within an alignment of personal character. Where do you draw the line on what is right or wrong? Take the test below: