Written and Narrated by Marie T. Russell.
Watch the video version of this article on YouTube.
I just finished watching the movie The School for Good and Evil. As I do in life itself, I look for messages when I watch movies. And because The Universe, All That Is, Spirit, Guidance, Good speaks through everything and everyone that comes our way, messages are found in "real life" as well as in books and movies... yes even in fantasy, romance, and all kinds of movies. Even the songs that play in a movie are, of course, part of the message that is being communicated.
One of the messages that struck me, early on in the movie was about how to measure one's goodness and that it's not about appearances but "it's about what one does". In other words, it's not about what others think you are or who you think you are, but about what you do. We may meditate for hours on end each day, or go to church religiously once a week, but if, when out of meditation or church, we are petty, we gossip, hurt others with our words and actions... then which energy are we living? Good or evil?
Earth: A School of Good and Evil
Earth itself it seems is a school of good and evil. We learn both ways of being. We carry both within our psyche. And while we may think, or have been taught, that we belong to one side or the other, we get to choose one or the other with each action, each thought, and every word that we utter. And the best that we can hope for, perhaps, is that the balance in our own being resides on the side of good.
If we judge, criticize, put down (ourselves and/or others) for not being totally "good", then we are only adding more weight to the side of "evil" or what is perhaps better described as the lack of love.
At one point in the movie, one of the characters explains the difference between the two: those who are good "care for each other, we fight for each other. Evil only fights for itself, and that is the furthest thing from love on earth". So perhaps we can replace the word good with love for All and the word evil with lack of love for Others.
When we don't "live love", we might be vain, self-righteous, judgmental, feel superior to others, put other down, or harm them in numerous other ways. Yet, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, so even if some of these feelings or thoughts reside in our being (and since we are human, I would expect they do), what counts is what we do. If our actions are compassionate, caring, and loving, then we are coming from love, even if doubts and darkness are part of who we are on the inside.
Acknowledging the Shadow
Many philosophies speak of accepting or acknowledging our darkness or our shadow side. This we must do in order to be able to come together with the other people around us in this world we live in. No one is completely evil, just as no one is completely good. We are all various hues in between. We are both -- not either/or.
We all have a shadow side and we all have an inner light. They both co-exist within our being. Each and every person carries both. It's a bit like the yin-yang symbol. Within the dark side where is a point of light, and within the light, a point of darkness.
I am reminded of what my friend Faith once told me. She had taught workshops in prisons in South America to a wide gamut of convicts... some of them on death row for murder. Yet what she told me is that these most hard-core prisoners would break down in tears as they received the unconditional love she had for them. They told her that this was the first time they had felt loved. No one in their life had loved them, especially unconditionally as she did.
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Even in the middle of a death-row convict's heart, there is room for love. But if love never gets sent their way, they never get to experience it. And so it is with the darkness within each and every one of us. It must experience love in order to be able to "see the light". The inner light and love is always there but it may be hidden in the shadows and has not come forth to be seen.
Thoughts and Actions
In Proverbs 23:7 one finds "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." Yet I feel that this is only part of the equation. We can all think good things, yet if our actions do not follow through on our thoughts, then we are only thinking, not doing. And the power lies in the combination of both... the thought as the creative aspect, and the action as the manifestation of that thought. So even if you have evil or unloving thoughts, if you do not put them into action, then the balance remains on the side of good or Love.
We are on a seesaw in life... going from love to lack of love, and back again. And the two are not necessarily in balance -- not all of the time, and possibly not often. Just as on a seesaw, it constantly goes up and down depending on who has control or more weight. There is no permanence... it is constantly changing. Our choices are ongoing, from moment to moment.
No one is either evil or good, but their actions are one or the other - loving or not. There are only choices between the two. We are all a combination of it all, making choices as we go along. Now you may argue that someone who constantly chooses evil or "lack of love" becomes evil... yet, think of the yin yang symbol... there is always a point of light within the darkness (and vice versa). If we focus on helping to bring forth the light, the love, both within ourselves and within others, then we can help tilt the balance towards Love.
Who Do You Think You Are?
The movie ends (no spoilers here, I promise) with the song "Who Do You Think You Are?" sung by Kiana Ledé and Cautious Clay. And perhaps that is the most important question to ask ourselves, just like the well-known question, "Who Am I?", posed by philosophers through the ages Yet the question posed in the movie is perhaps more important: "Who Do You Think You Are?".
The importance is not so much who we are, but who we think we are. Because, as we think we are, so shall we be. Because our action comes after the thought, we must choose which thoughts we wish to promote within our being and which ones we wish to cancel or relegate to the junk heap.
And remember that when you have evil or unloving thoughts, you are not evil, you are simply a human being seeking to balance out the energies within and make choices... hopefully more choices that support love than not.
Here are some of the lyrics from the song:
I'm caught in between
Two worlds apart
Devils and dreams
But do you know your heart
Tell me who do you think you are
Or bad from the start
Devils and dreams
But do you know your heart
Who do you think you are
Who do you think you, who do you think you are
Tell me who do you think you are
And I reiterate, we are not either/or. We are not evil, and we are not good. We are human, thus we have both and we simply choose as we go along. The hope, of course, is that more and more of us will choose Love or Good more often than not, day by day, moment by moment. And when we don't, there is always the next choice awaiting us, where were we can reverse our previous decision.
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by Dawna Markova.
Named a USA Today Best Bet for Educators, this is a book that encourages grace through the smallest gestures. The inspiration for the kindness movement, Random Acts of Kindness is an antidote for a weary world. Its true stories, thoughtful quotations, and suggestions for generosity inspire readers to live more compassionately in this beautiful new edition.
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About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com