Friday 19 May 2017

Good People, Bad People

I've realised something interesting recently and that is that bad people generally have no idea that they are bad people. This may seem obvious to many readers but had only really occurred to me over the last few years in the light of certain personal experiences. I knew the old joke about the Nazis being astonished to realise that they were supposed to be the bad guys, but had never extrapolated a more universal truth from it. Now, though, it's clear to me that this is indeed the case. As a rule bad people have no sense of their moral and/our spiritual condition.

But, you might ask, isn't it very old fashioned to think in terms of good and bad people? We're all a mixture of the two surely? Good, or good enough, when things are going well and potentially bad when pressure is applied to our weak points. That is no doubt true but still there are people who are in a more fallen condition than others, people who are more deeply sunk in pride, selfishness, egotism than the norm and it is them I am talking about. Most people are neither very good nor very bad but there are some at both ends of the spectrum and it is these latter I am talking about. However they are not the obviously evil monsters beloved of the tabloids, but apparently normal, ordinary people who have blinded themselves to the reality of their own nature and live in a state of delusion.

But, again you might ask, aren't we all like that to a degree, especially when you apply spiritual standards? And yes, of course, we are. We are probably all slightly mentally ill too. Nevertheless there is delusion and complete delusion, normal and extreme forms and though we do all undoubtedly live in a state of delusion from a higher standpoint, some people do even from a normal one.

All this raises the potentially uncomfortable question. Am I a bad person myself?  Here again it depend on perspective. Yes, we are all bad from a true spiritual perspective. We are all sinners, and ultimately 'there is none good save one which is God'. However the realisation that one is a bad person is the beginning of becoming a good one. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is, taking fear to mean a humbling sense of his supreme reality and your absolute dependence on him, then the recognition that one is a sinner is the first step on the path to becoming a saint.

All of which leads to the idea of repentance but that is a subject that merits a post to itself.

1 comment:

Bruce Charlton said...

" the realisation that one is a bad person is the beginning of becoming a good one"

This is the experience of Alcoholics Anonymous, as I understand it and through talking with people who have worked-with alcoholics.

It is only when people have been brought so low as to recognise that they have become bad (as a result of their addiction) that there is a chance for escape; and sometimes people become better than ever before. I have met one person that this happened to - I knew them before AA and after and the positive difference was remarkable.