When Is Someone Evil?

In the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons there is an alignment chart to help you decide what your character cares about and what they will do to chase what they care about. Good versus Evil, Lawful versus Chaotic. Being on the “evil” end of the scale doesn’t mean you have to be a murderous, maniacal psychopath. You can play characters that are “evil” because they don’t follow the law, or because they are willing to do terrible things if the reasons are right. “Good guys” can murder and steal and pillage and “bad guys” can save the town from something far worse than they are.

So where is the line in the sand of what is evil?

Just like in real life, that line gets muddied. Sometimes the ends justifies the means, sometimes they don’t. It was once considered good to sell people to other people. The word retard use to be only a medical or technical term, neither good or bad. No one is born being Hitler. Even Hitler wasn’t born Hitler. He started out wanting to be an artist.

Villains in games and other entertainments are never as clear cut as being evil to the core. That’s how you get mustache-twirling caricatures instead of characters. If any of you are writing villains, ask yourself what are they gaining by doing “evil” to others? Everyone wants something, and it is the rare and broken person who only wants to inflict pain and suffering.

Everyone is the hero of their own story. Most people wouldn’t recognize they’re evil even if a band of heroes showed up to stop them from continuing their evil deeds. Without some objective guidelines on what is good and what is not, the road to being evil is a slippery slope.

Check your thoughts and actions. Without a party of adventurers to stop us we need to stop ourselves first, which unfortunately is much harder.

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas

Have You Stopped And Wondered Today?

The internet astounds me still, even after watching it grow from nothing into what it is today.

This past weekend, I chatted face to face with a man in Australia in real time. The next day my family shared dinner in five different houses across two states. I flew a drone with a first person perspective around an obstacle course as if I was a fighter jet pilot.

And I never left my house.

I remember only being able to imagine doing such things as a kid, when video calls were limited to science fiction like Star Trek. How far we have come. Now, anyone can buy a device that connects them to the rest of the world and all the information we have gained as a species. Some of those devices even fit into our pockets.

Staring out onto my deck that leads into my backyard, I can see the pine trees that give me privacy from my neighbors, the enclosed fire pit that I haven’t used, and the kids playset that is in desperate need of repair in a sand pit full of weeds that don’t seem to struggle at all to sprout year after year.

I’ve owned the backyard, and the house, for six years. The wonder that it’s the first yard I’ve ever owned has worn off. I don’t see a haven, or a playground for the children in my life. I see a to do list more often than not.

Trim the grass, weed the sand, fix the playset, stain the deck.

It worries me that there are places that I’m losing my wonder. We need wonder in our lives. It’s something that nourishes a part of us most have long let dry up. When we were kids, everyone had a bucket of wonder larger than they were. It made you hope. It made you imagine. It made you dream.

Wonder makes us build not what is, but what can be.

We have to fight to keep the wonder in our lives. Every day, we risk becoming numb by not taking the time to feed our sense of wonder. That numbness eats away until all we have is a phone, all we see is a responsibility, and we stop caring to get better.

When the universe becomes your backyard, after a while that’s all you see: just a backyard.

-Doctor Who

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas