Only Two Choices: Good or Evil
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), an Anglican Christian, wrote many allegories as a marvelous and entertaining story teller. Our last article discussed his book, The Last Battle as an allegory on the end of the world, and which gave us lessons about waking up to discover that we had held mistaken, untrue beliefs for quite a while.
Lewis also wrote an imaginative allegory about Heaven and Hell called, The Great Divorce. In this story, a group of people in Hell take a bus ride to Heaven, complaining all the way. They so disliked the place that they all re-board the bus to go back to Hell, which they greatly prefer. The entertaining story underscores that we each do have free will to choose, and it portrays the truth that our perceptions and our thinking are affected by our basic orientation toward either the good or evil.
Some people try to avoid this reality: the either / or choice. They want to believe that in the end it is all the same. Things will just work out. Might be bad but just tweaked it and it’ll be fine, no biggie.
Lewis does not accept this. “This belief I take to be a disastrous error.... We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the center: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision.”
Our difficulties lie with competing desires tugging at our freedom of choice. And it’s not just an occasional thing. We are constantly meeting small forks in the road having to choose between good and evil, or sometimes a greater good or a lesser good. “Good, as it ripens,” Lewis says, “Becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.” The more we choose the good, the more we become the good. The more we choose the evil, the more evil we become and much harder to change direction.
Say we get off on the good road for a bit – whether purposefully making a wrong choice, or whether merely through mistaken belief or trusting someone not worthy of our trust. But we come to realize this isn’t right. At this point what we cannot do is simply keep going on as if things will all by themselves work out right. No, Lewis says, evil can never become good. If you are working on a math problem and the result is wrong, you cannot proceed unless you go back and find where the error is, correct it, and get the right result; then you can proceed. “Evil can be undone,” Lewis says,” but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit.”
Many things in America today, in the world today, are great goods. Love and beauty and uplifting music will always fill our souls with peace and joy. But there are many evils in our society and the world today as well. We know of plenty; there are plenty more hidden evils. Where are the two boys [missing since December in California City, CA]? Why do we have so many unsolved murders in California City? Evil can never be glossed over. It will not just all work out right in the end. The cure of the darkness is God’s Light – bringing the deception of evil out into the open, and re-setting our moral compass (i.e., educating our conscience) to God’s Truth and Goodness.
Remember from Lewis’ story of the “Last Battle” [from last week] where Aslan (the Christ figure) came to take the children and the honorable, but mistaken, Emeth to Heaven. In the story, Tash (the Satan figure) also came to take his minions to Hell. But then, remember, there were those dwarfs who were stuck inside their own perceptions, clinging to their own darkness and unable to see the light. They could not follow Aslan, but they also were not taken by Tash. But clearly their experience was hellish. Maybe that’s like some of us: blind and deaf and stuck.
Please God that he might enable each of us to firmly desire to awaken into the light, to see the truth and find the good, and to walk towards it, rejecting evil, at every fork in the road.
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church is located in California City, CA. Visit our website at ollcalcity.org.