August 5, 2013

Good or bad is in the mind of the beholder

The presidential elections in Maldives is now on full throttle to culminate on 7 September, and the thought that comes to many a mind within the polity is about what constitutes a good person or a bad one. Is there really a good or bad person per se? How come someone is good for one person and then this same person is seen as bad by another person? How can one person be both good and bad? It cannot be we would say.

God created each one of us as a neutral being. We pick up our opinions as we go along in life and become the individuals that we think we are. The reality for us is this separation we perceive in this world of form that comes from our mental make-up. Try as we may to insulate ourselves or segregate our physical selves into man-made social, economic or political compartments, we cannot truly be separate from the oneness we were create as. So the essence of our being is still that God given element of the soul or real-self within. When one person judges another as good or bad, it is only an expressed opinion based on those sensibilities accumulated along one’s life process. So when I see another as bad that is my self-view and similarly when another sees that same person as bad it is that observer's thoughts, attitudes or intentions that makes for the good or bad that he sees. In other words it is I, the observer, that decides who is good or who is bad. Curiously, the observer phenomenon is something even quantum physics alludes to in what makes the universe what it is; if we want to measure quanta "those packets of light" that is the known smallest particles of our universe's make-up, we can measure these as waves or particles (yes, it can be two things at the same time -- just like each one of us can be perceived as good or bad) depending on our wish to measure it one way or the other. Thus do we create the perceptions of our universe and then then the confluence of these views becomes the collective view of a society that prevails for us as our perceived environment. So a society can see itself along a continuum of perceptions -- as cruel, conniving and violent on the one extreme or loving and compassionate on the other - or somewhere in between.

The point here is that we create our vision of the world and then we live it - loving it or hating it or somewhere in between; often not being aware that it is we ourselves that create the joy or misery that we live in. Therefore there is hope for violent societies to become loving if only we become aware of this responsibility we have to shoulder as participants within our universe. If we don't or if we choose not to rectify our situation even after we become aware of this possibility, then we will continue to live our lives with misery in our hearts. Thus, social harmony is within our calling if we should want it so.


Aime said...

Dear Sattar,

This is a very interesting piece of personal reflexions, and very much thought provoking.
To put another grain for the discussion, I personnally think that we judge another person as 'good' or 'bad' based on our personal framework of expectation of what a good person should look like. Sometimes we take another person as standard, and compare than the person to be jugded in the light of that standard. As an example we can take MANDELA as an ideal standard, make in our mind a list of the excellent qualities of Mandela and compare. As an epidemiologist we always compare something (or someone ) to a given standard.

best regards,


Prof Dr Aime De Muynck

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

Dear Aime, good to know you visit my blog. Absolutely, our standards are in fact what makes us make our judgement. That is really the basis. My point is just to show that getting Mandela to be our ideal in the first place was on the basis of what our perceptions of good and bad gleaned from our life experiences, and then being personified in in the image of Mandela. Thanks so much for your comment, and many warm regards

Anonymous said...

definitely thought provoking.
Now I'm wondering if we let human brains interpret good and bad, can we imagine what the world is gonna be like? We are capable of perceiving the unimaginable, doing the unimaginable... there's difference in opinion in everything. While one sees over confidence in oneself as something cool, the other might see it as arrogance.
So, if we leave each other to perceive what's good and bad, and to judge each other based on our own perceptions, it is gonna put us in chaos. Hence, we are in need of a benchmark of good and bad, which I believe is already set by the Creator (who knows us better than we do). Nevertheless, we are still making judgements based on our own perceptions, which is mostly determined by our own ego driven desires. So how can we trust this judgement?
As said by Marcus Aurelius, "everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
So perhaps what we need is to seek the truth to find what's good and bad?

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

Dear Reader, thanks for injecting that missing element in the conversation. Agree with you; we do have limits set by the Creator to measure against, the validity of our opinions.