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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Evil is Bad

Children in their early years recognize badness in stories and in how others may treat them badly, but they often struggle with seeing it in themselves. Conversely, they are usually the first to extend forgiveness and forgetting when the event is over with. Parents want to instill discipline when kids are bad to teach them a valuable lesson, "to nip it in the bud," so they grow up to be conscious of the consequences of being bad. Teaching moments include what one janitor in a school did to encourage kids to clean up after themselves. He gave candy in wrappers to the kids at certain times and provided the appropriate trash can on the way out of the classroom. He did this to at least two classes, but in one room he praised the kids for throwing their wrappers in the trash every day they received candy and told them they were good kids for doing so. In the other classroom he said nothing to the kids. In BOTH cases the kids generally threw the wrappers everywhere but the trash can, at first. Eventually, the class that was consistently praised for being so clean actually did throw their wrappers away while the other kids kept on throwing them everywhere but the trash. Praise caused them to gradually identify with being clean and they changed their own behaviors as a result: "We are the clean class," they must have been thinking. Badness or evil is really selfishness. The difference is a matter of degree. When someone practices badness, deliberately choosing AND identifying with it, they become evil over time. This universal principle involves ALL intelligent creatures.