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The prevailing disposition of human nature is essentially positive, directed towards harmony and a sense of internal unity, constantly seeking union or wholeness in and with other beings and the world.
Despite the evidence of some human behavior, at the central core of our being is the desire to seek what is laudable, hopeful or “to the good” for ourselves and others. Our essential nature urges us to do what is pleasing, valuable or useful both for ourselves and others.

As the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote “You neither want nor strive for anything because you judge it to be good. On the contrary, you consider something to be good because you strive for it, want it and desire it.” What is good is right and what is right is good, and these constitute the essence of authenticity.
In many ways what is good is also what is whole or complete. Some use the term ‘wholesome’ to describe something that is physically or morally good, that it exhibits soundness in body, mind or composition. The sense of separation within us, and between us and others, and the emphasis in the world on separation and difference denies the unity and interdependence that is the true nature of the universe.
Good therefore, is right because it affirms and accepts our wholeness within the diversity and multiplicity of a world which we co-create daily with our fellow human beings. At a personal level this is more than just being good or doing good, but in its truest form is compassionate love for yourself and others.
The opposite of good is evil. Paradoxically evil is nothing other than a rejection of the good. Everything that exists comes originally from good. Everything is in some way good, and evil only exists in a secondary juxtaposition to good. Goodness is innate—evil isn’t.
The Christian saint and philosopher, Augustine of Hippo said that “those things we call evil are defects in good things and quite incapable of existing in their own right outside good things.” Those defects testify to the natural goodness of things.
According to Carl Jung evil is not a natural thing, it is the name given to the state of being deprived of goodness. Therefore there can be no good without evil, and there can be no evil without good. Good is what seems suitable, acceptable or valuable to you and evil is the opposite. Good is the inherent nature of things and evil is a defect in that nature.

The challenge for each of us is to embark on a personal journey of establishing what it means for us to live an authentic life. We must be responsible for our own life rather than responsive to what others say our life should be. Rather than lament the passing of stern leadership and the imposition of ethical standards from on high we can see this era as the next stage in the maturation of humanity. We are no longer children or adolescents but have come into adulthood and must now shape our world with the tools of reason and intuition, science and tradition.

This requires clarifying and testing our personal values in the fire of our lived experience; coming to terms with our personal power and defining what it means to achieve success and wellbeing in life. We are called to face the challenge of simultaneously living our life and exercising our freedom and power in accordance with those values.

We have become accustomed to taking our values and ideals much like our breakfast cereal—out of a box. The box is that of culture and tradition, family and tribe and nowadays the social conditioning peddled by a voracious media under the guise of ‘public opinion.’ The surrender of so many leaders to the alleged primacy of public opinion has been a central feature in the collapse of credible leadership at all levels in society. To be authentic is to have a belief, a position, a view and then to stand-up for that view until convinced by others that it is misguided or there is a better alternative.

The challenge for a free and authentic person is to create your own vision or ideal of what a modern, valuable and authentic society might be, and be willing to stand-up for it. And in the process, not to be unduly swayed by what the media present to you as ‘truth.

 

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