“…to attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood… is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be.”-Frank Herbert, Dune
After reading Lord of The Flies in 9th grade english class, my teacher, Mrs. Infante, asked us to write an argument essay about whether humans are inherently good or evil. I staunchly defended Good. And I was surprised to learn that several of my classmates went Bad. I don’t remember the exact count, but I needed both hands to do the math. Was this exercise but a trick to get us to reveal our own personal nature? And if so, which champagne glass is poisoned?
I think the takeaway from this assignment was supposed to be, it depends. And a degree in psychology has reinforced this takeaway for me. The truth is, even good intentions can, and often do produce terrible outcomes. Atrocities, even. People have been burned alive in the name of God. Think about that for a minute.
Don’t we all know someone who closes conversations with this buttoner? And don’t you also get the sense that this person once benefitted from hearing it himself?
It’s a wonderful idea, being good. I wouldn’t touch it. In other word, yes, just do that. However, the ugly truth is that you have to watch out for yourself too. You can’t be naive. Because there are takers out there who will siphon your time and energy. In fact, the taking is built in to the system. Capitalism requires scarcity. In its absence, scarcity is created artificially. The major plot line of Dune is two families battling for economic control over a precious psychedelic drug / spice called, “melange.” The adversaries’ scheme is to stockpile the spice, and then destroy all of its production so that they control 100% of the supply, and can then sell it for whatever exorbitant price they wish. Do you think artificial scarcity doesn’t happen all the time in real life?
In order to defeat malevolence, you sometimes have to think malevolently. Being “good” isn’t always so simple.
*Dune is soon to be a major motion picture directed by Denis Villeneueve, out October 22, 2021.
Are you interested in Dune? What are your thoughts / observations about the good and evil of the human psyche?
Thanks for reading!