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Madmen who remember and madmen who forget

"Perhaps everybody has a garden of Eden, I don't know; but they have scarcely seen their garden before they see the flaming sword. Then, perhaps, life only offers the choice of remembering the garden or forgetting it. Either, or: it takes strength to remember, it takes another kind of strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare." - James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room


This way of looking at the world is very similar to the dichotomy between those who think man is essentially good and those who think man is essentially evil. If one considers man to be essentally good, he must actively suppress or try to forget all of the inevitably evil things man does. Wheras, if one considers man to be essentially evil one lives with the constant remembrance of the darkness of mankind--and himself. But this second option requires a different kind of active attempt to forget the innocence of children and the love and kindness that do exist in the world.

I'm a pretty firm believer, well VERY firm believer, in everyone being essentially good. I think all evil can be attributed to people being treated badly... it all comes down to the the garden of Eden again, doesn't it? ... if people are only evil because evil has been done to them, then we can keep tracing it back to an initial evil. But I think if you interupt the chain, you would find that people are essentially good.

This is why I don't believe in punishment, only education and redemption. I may have a bit too much faith in the capacity of everyone to be redeemed, but I certainly don't think people should be punished for expressions of evil that have been passed down to them.

I will probably get myself in trouble with this amount of trust in people eventually. I had friend in college who was afraid to walk around the city at night. I, on the other hand, am afraid to walk around the woods at night. Bears, you see. She thinks people are essentially more evil than bears. I argue that you can reason with a person. Look at what happened to Timothy Treadwell. But then again, the only reason he was out there with the grizzlies was that he couldn't reason with people. Hmm.

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