If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No matter how enlightened the cause, the crusade to eradicate evil will always end in self-destruction. Good and evil are inseparable — in the world and within the individual. Any rhetoric which insists that someone else is responsible for society’s ills is the very illness itself. That someone is me, it’s you. We’re responsible. Don’t vilify those against whom popular opinion has swayed you, because you, too, without doubt, are the villain of someone else’s rhetoric. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Think for yourself.

The war raging within us is not against the world, but shadows cast by it upon our souls. They dance in the false light of lies told by those whose power over us relies on our willingness to forfeit our own. To believe the lies and act upon them, is to take up arms and attack the enemy. In the fog of war, friend and enemy are never easy to discern. The hateful blow will not fall on the phantom in your mind, but on someone who deserves love. Your heart will be crippled by their wounds, and the lingering pain will be compounded by the shame of your brutality. For the heart that has known savagery will always see civility as pretense, and a hand once raised in anger will always hold fear.

When the heat of battle subsides, and you look soberly upon the unbearable consequence of self-righteousness, what spoils will the liars divide with you in return for your dignity? What will you have gained? Nothing but fresh burdens on your conscience that you will carry many long years. When the war is over, life will go on, lame, battered, unrecognizable… but it will go on, and you must go on with it with whatever you have left. What few shards that remain of your relationships will only serve as mementos of something that’s been lost forever.

Reject the lie. You are not somehow separate from those who see things differently than you. We are united in our need for liberty, security, fulfillment, and support. The terrible weight of the human condition presses equally upon us all. Hatred will destroy us.

The thing we hate the most is only a reflection of what we repress within ourselves. Your bad habits, poor judgments, and darkest thoughts, those things which you are most ashamed of, are as much a part of you as any virtue or good intention. The shadows are a part of you. The longer you fail to address them, the more likely they are to interfere with your life. When you condemn a part of yourself as evil and impure, you invite it to rebel against you. As long as you deny that they exist, the shadows will project themselves onto others to prove that they are real. As long as you make an enemy of yourself, you will always be at war.

Let the darkness of condemnation dissipate in the healing light of awareness. Reclaim your dignity. Acknowledge the parts of yourself that you dislike. Show them respect. Form a healthy relationship with them. Give them a voice, they’re telling you something that you should hear. You may listen to their needs without obeying their commands. In the forge of truth, hammer your flaws into unfailing principles. Refine yourself. Bring the dueling forces into harmony. They are your strength. And when you see yourself as whole — both good and evil (yet neither), complex, multidimensional — you will see the wholeness of humanity. Once you accept that you are worthy of redemption, you will redeem us all. Once you are able to look unflinchingly upon the worst within yourself, you will surely see the best in others.

When those forces harmonize, a heart becomes whole. When two hearts harmonize, a family is born. When families harmonize, a community is formed. When communities harmonize, a society arises. When societies harmonize, humanity is advanced. That all starts with you — it will never be fulfilled without you. You are the beginning, and the ultimate end. You are the thread that binds the tapestry. You are the benefactor, and the beneficiary. You are the bearer of the gift, and the recipient. You are the piece that completes the whole.

Hold high the light of truth and dispel the lie. Integrate the hated with the loved, the unknown with the familiar, the shadow with the light. Bond with the world, don’t reject it. Be a force of balance, not opposition. Recognize that you are inseparable from the world, that you are responsible for your part of its troubles, and that you add to its splendor. Heal the world by healing yourself. The purpose of your life is to give life back to the world. The purpose of your life is to be productive, to contribute. The purpose of your life is to get better at living it.

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www.gfda.co — Authors of “Do the F*cking Work: Lowbrow Advice for High-Level Creativity” Follow us on IG @GoodDsgnAdvice