If you could take every negative thing that has happened, is happening, or will ever happen to you in your entire life and get it all over with at once—like one ten-year period of absolute hell—and then have the rest of your life for sheer joy… would you do it?
I remember taking intro to philosophy in college. Of course, one of the topics we discussed was the existence of a god or gods. A popular argument for the lack of god was the existence of evil, or bad. If God is perfectly powerful and perfectly good, why would he make evil at all? Why make his creations suffer? The fact that we have to suffer proves there is no god, some argued.
But there is a counter-argument for that line of thought. Quite simply, bad is necessary to appreciate good. If everyone in the world were safe, healthy, content, and blessed, how could they appreciate it? With nothing to compare your happiness to, wouldn’t happiness just become the norm? These people argue that God created bad to highlight good.
Regardless of your stance on the existence of God, this is an intriguing concept. I suppose it’s like leaving your loved ones. Have you ever gone on a trip, only to appreciate your spouse/parents/friends that much more when you came back? Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder.
All of this is pretty highly theoretical, I think. It’s easy enough to say that without bad we couldn’t appreciate good, but no one can really test the theory. It seems plausible, to me, that if I were happy all the time I would just be happy. I wouldn’t need contrast to prove how I feel.
On a more testable scale, do people with rough lives appreciate the high points more fully than those who rarely have bad things happen to them? Is the recovered, employed, homeless drug addict more appreciative for what he’s gone through?
And yes, maybe it doesn’t even matter. The bottom line is that we have bad and we have good. We might as well use what we have to love what we have.
Still, I can’t help wonder, is it possible that everyday life is enough to make us grateful? Do we need dramatic highs and lows to love what we have?
Which brings me back to my original question. Do you think bad is necessary to appreciate good? And if you could get it all over with at once… would you do it?Share this: