A friend recently told me “I feel like I’m walking a tight rope of razor blades. On one side is a path of righteousness. The other is a path of evil. I feel like I can’t fully commit to the path of goodness because the good man can’t do any good. Good requires the ability to do evil, to harm if necessary.”
This is not an uncommon belief, that life is all shades of gray. This is true to a degree. There will inevitably come times in our lives that any decision will hurt someone. This dilemma has existed for thousands of years. The Hindus say that the solution is to strive for pure, good intention and eventually we will free ourselves from negative karma.
Here’s my take: goodness does not necessitate a gray area. Goodness is merely a commitment to the virtues. We can be good and still eliminate bad by following the virtue of justice. It’s a continual striving, a continual reflection, a continual battle. In times when it is hard to differentiate what is just and what is merciful, it is necessary to surround yourself with a good-natured, trusted counsel who can shed some light. These are your friends and mentors who are walking kindred paths.
It will be hard, but the mere act of striving places you on the good side of the tight rope. Learn and follow the ways of virtue, and don’t fret over the possibility of falling victim to evil. As long as you seek the good and have fellow travelers for accountability, you’re going to be fine.
You may not always get it right. That’s okay. You’re still good. You’re just in the arena.