Evil Rant #18- Explanation of "The New Goodness"
In "The Myth of Goodness" rant, I introduced a concept that I called the new goodness. However, I felt that this idea needed further clarification because it is so vital to understanding the good and evil dynamic in our society. My purpose for creating this term was to categorize people who claim to be above old fashion standards of good and evil, but who seem to still exhibit some decisively pro-moral tendencies and beliefs. Although such classification might be considered taboo (I'm sure that many of the people in this category would like to avoid being classified altogether), this kind of taxonomy is just as important for understanding people, as it is for interpreting everything else in our world.
Some may argue that the reason that these individuals exhibit these sorts of tendencies is that goodness is the dominant human attribute. Needless to say, I consider that kind of belief to be idealistic nonsense (then again, considering the fact that I call myself a villain, I guess I'd be a hypocrite to say that there's absolutely no one who naturally tends toward "goodness"; though I think this would be the exception, rather than the rule). We've already examined concepts of good and evil, as well as the problems with thinking in those terms in previous rants; (selfishness & fear = perceived evil etc.) so there's no need to go over that again. However, we need to remember that many people (consciously or subconsciously) do believe in these concepts, whether they're real or imagined. This is essentially what the new goodness is about. The new goodness status applies to people who logically understand that ideas of good and evil don't make much sense, but who still can't emotionally get over this indoctrination (there's a difference between saying that you understand something and truly grasping it). What you end up with, are people who will say that they understand that there is no good or evil, but who will reject and are biased against many of the things which would normally fall under the "evil" category. Often, this is a sign that they are not as truly liberated from these ideas as they may claim.
One reason for this discrepancy is that people really don't change. Many of these folks consider themselves enlightened for not believing in good and evil. In reality, the only difference between them and the believers of good and evil of the past, is that the perpetrators of the new goodness have been fed different information. Instead of thinking of good as an absolute and infallible principle, these people were taught about the gray area, but always encouraged to stay on the lighter side. Basically, the message is "sure, good and evil don't really exist, but be good anyway, just because... it's good!" The new goodness crowd is typically not as rigid about certain types of old religious style morality; such as sexual issues as well as laziness or personal freedom. It should be observed that this perceived flexibility is almost certainly a reflection of social standards, rather than personal preference. It's doubtful that many of these people would embrace these beliefs if they were more culturally taboo and unacceptable. My point is that these kinds of beliefs are still routed in social indoctrination as opposed to personal choice. The real test of whether someone is truly liberated from narrow minded concepts of good and evil is how they react to the more unpopular forms of "evil". You'll notice that the most blatantly selfish, cynical and destructive sins are still out of fashion.
Another thing to consider is social pressure. Speaking from personal experience, even a self proclaimed villain can feel the natural reflex to want to defend himself against verbal attack. One of the most basic forms that these attacks take is for someone to say, in essence, "you're bad", to which you instinctually respond "no, I'm not". It's not that they're necessarily wrong; it's just that what they're saying holds an undesirable connotation and is therefore perceived as an insult, regardless of how accurate their statement might have been. Of course I realized that, with some intelligence and self control, this doesn't need to be a problem (just agree with them, and act like it was a compliment or use another such tactic). My point is that evil, by its very nature, always has undesirable connotations. From most peoples standpoint that's what evil is about. So although people who fall under the category of new goodness may understand that there is no real good or evil, they still don't want to be perceived as being "evil". This is a concept that Anton LaVey referred to as the "good guy badge". The truth is that most people simply aren't willing to take it off and be the "bad guy". I think it's safe to say that most new goodness people are very concerned about the opinions others have of them. In fact, I'd say that strict adherence to social or group standards may be enough to place one in the new goodness category, regardless of their concern for more traditional morality (remember, 90% of what will be considered right or wrong is determined by the whims of the herd).
One of the prime motivators for goodness, new or otherwise, is guilt. Strict, old fashioned Christian morality taught people to feel guilty about their very existence on earth and to live only to go to heaven; which incidentally, could only happen after ones non-self inflicted death (how convenient, you can't indulge in earthly existence and yet you can't accelerate your own path to heaven; too bad, I guess prolonged misery is your only option). New goodness guilt is not quite as severe or absolute. Generally, new goodness folks are encouraged to feel guilty about doing anything which might be considered harmful, malicious or destructive. The phrase "as long as no one gets hurt" is fairly common in these circles and seems to sum it up. If that's not enough, then they can also feel guilty about not "pitching in" and not actively doing something good or helpful. Most members of the new goodness are encouraged to care about others and to try to make things better. They are also expected to feel bad about doing anything which goes against these concepts. This means that anything which could be considered selfish, hateful, vengeful or even overtly apathetic or insensitive could very well be thought of as evil to these folks. Guilt for having more than others, for what their fellow humans have done to the environment or each other, for not doing enough to make things better and for any "crimes" they may have committed or thought about committing against other people, is there stimulation of choice. Their guilt gives them purpose; it occupies their time and allows them to feel something.
One interesting observation I have about this is that these people only seem to grasp the most blatant, straightforward ways of helping. The world cannot function and continue to exist on goodness alone. There must be equal representation of decisively sinister attributes, in order for existence to continue. Even in many eastern and new age type philosophies (which many of these individuals claim to subscribe to) there is an appreciation for the more "evil" elements of the world. The darker and more unpleasant aspects of reality are not only inseparably intertwined with the overtly pleasant "good" ones; they are essential to the whole scheme of things. Darwinism is a great example of this. Destruction is essential to life, and yet despite the fact that these people realized this on a logical level, how many are willing to play for the dark side?
The main point I would like to make to my fellow villains out there is that "the new goodness" is just that. A slightly updated version of the one we all know and loath. Do not assume that just because someone says that there above simple concepts of good and evil that they'll actually have what it takes to back it up. Many people are now learning just how absurd ridged notions of right and wrong really are. This is, of course, a step in the right (or wrong) direction; but it would be a mistake to think that so many people are truly grasping the futility of these ideas. Teaching sheep a few new tricks does not put them any higher on the food chain. This does, however, help to serve our villainous cause in a delightfully fiendish way. It gives us an opportunity to work more openly, and to be more blatant in our messages and methods. From a villain's standpoint the new goodness is superior to the old one because it is so much more flexible, and therefore more corruptible.
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