“The very wronging of man by man may be derived from an effort toward the Good; foiled, in their weakness, of their true desire, they turn against each other; still, when they do wrong, they pay the penalty—that of having hurt their souls by their evil conduct and of degradation to a lower place—for nothing can ever escape what stands decreed in the law of the Universe.
“This is not to accept the idea, sometimes urged, that order is an outcome of disorder and law of lawlessness, as if evil were a preliminary to their existence or their manifestation: on the contrary order is the original and enters this sphere as imposed from without. … Why the wrong course is followed is scarcely worth inquiring: …” ~Plotinus
Plotinus thinks that when men do evil things, it is because of a misguided attempt to do good. While they may be true eighty, or even ninety, percent of the time, I think there are some who are well aware that they are doing evil and either don’t care, or actually revel in the wrongness of it. As I write this, one of the headlines in the news is of a well known teenager (I wont give him publicity by listing his name) who got off with ten years probation and a mandatory stint in a country club pretending to be a rehabilitation center. This murdered, who got off on the grounds that he was so spoiled by his parents that he didn’t know right from wrong, has now fled with his mother and is believed to have left the country. I expect he will turn up after getting arrested for some crime in another country, where he won’t get off with a good scolding. In any case, this young man is probably a good example of what Plotinus is saying. Since the kid was never taught to consider the consequences of his actions, he does whatever feels good at the moment, and never worries about the long term consequences. Sadly, teenagers are not the only ones who think that way. Continue reading “An Effort Toward Good”