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Why Goodness Outdoes Evil

Interview With Rafael Gómez Perez

MADRID, Spain, NOV. 17, 2004 (Zenit) - Evil seems to be more fascinating than good, yet in reality it is goodness that moves the world, says a lecture in anthropology.

Rafael Gómez Pérez in his book "Eulogy of Goodness," published by Rialp, discusses the attraction of the good. Gómez is the author of more than 70 books, including "Moral Problems of Human Existence."

Q: Is it easy to extol goodness?

Gómez: We all want the good. The good is that to which we all aspire. The good is the key to all happiness. When tasting good food, we say how "good" it is. In commenting on a work of art, we say, "It is really good." To extol goodness would be obvious, if it wasn't for the fact that evil lies in wait.

Q: Why does the good seem boring -- in films, for example -- and evil so captivating?

Gómez: In real and practical life, the good captivates us more than the evil. No one who goes to the dentist is captivated by a clumsy dentist, not to say a perverse one. It is otherwise in art, in fiction.

Because then it is not enough to just do things; what is done must be done with art. To simply present good feelings is not enough to produce art. Nor is it art to simply present bad feelings. When the good is presented with art, it captivates as much or more than evil.

When evil captivates, it takes advantage of its opposition to good, or the absence of good. The good is attractive in itself.

There are hundreds of examples in works of art. For example, Goethe's "Faust." No matter how attractive the character Mephistopheles is, the devil, he cannot be compared with Margaret. She is good, deceived, abandoned, but continues to love, to forgive, to pray for Faust and obtains his salvation from heaven.

Sometimes artists emphasize "evil" so that the quality of goodness may be more forcefully seen. Evil is a parasite.

Q: Is the world made for good people?

Gómez: Not only is it made for them but, without a greater proportion of good than evil, everything would already have exploded in a thousand pieces. It is goodness that sustains the world.

Evil might seem appropriate for "others" but not for oneself. But humanity is no more than a collection of "oneselves." Note that we are talking about good persons, not the ingenuous or gullible.

Goodness is something that has a lot to do with intelligence. The more lucid the good person is, the more goodness he spreads.

Goodness is not a quality that is immovable, present once and for all. One must grow in goodness, as one grows in science, in being able to do things, in relating to others. Goodness is dynamic, a creative force. The "goody-goody" is a caricature of goodness.

To be in the good is to be in truth, and from that combination stems the radiance of beauty. One might think that there is much evil, deceit and ugliness in the world. Perhaps. But there must be more goodness, because evil ruins any structure, and if there were more evil than good, everything would be in ruins.

In the struggle between good and evil -- which must be peaceful on the part of the good -- good outstrips evil, as in the majority of films. Save for masochists, very few want evil to win, because it is not true that evil is the absolute winner in history.

Q: Those who defend goodness are labeled relativists and are accused of thinking naively that what is good for them is good for all.

Gómez: A very long list could be made of coincidences of things that all consider good: to be loved, respected, desired, to have enough to live on, to have friends, to be able to enjoy the beauty of things. If it weren't for those coincidences, and many others, humanity would not have progressed a step.

Civilization is, in many aspects, an accumulation of good solutions, despite having had to go through many evils, misfortunes and sufferings to attain something better.

If one looks at the history of humanity, one sees that what is called progress, when the rhetoric is removed, is the sum of positive inventions, of more human solutions, of the progressive recognition of human rights, of millions of good actions, of hundreds of thousands of examples of generosity, solidarity and mutual support.

Q: Your book denies that the secret of goodness lies in a good natural disposition. Where, then, is the secret of goodness?

Gómez: Goodness is like the virtue that encompasses all virtues, as all virtue depends on that second nature which is continuity in doing good actions.

In a word, the secret of goodness is the freedom to choose the good, the more times the better, with the conviction that it is the best one can do for oneself and for others.

Christ is the example of the true path to happiness. Of him, it was written, "omnia bene fecit" -- he did everything well.


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