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Frontier Science/Social Change
"Good and Evil: A Principle of Polarity"
by Paul Von Ward

The laws of modern science offer no explanations why history and current events always include good (constructive) and bad (destructive) human behavior. Some claim that bad behavior results from our genetic heritage, a result of humans not having evolved enough. Many of today's statistics would suggest we haven't evolved at all. Some people assume that an evil force leads inherently good humans astray; only their religious beliefs can overcome them.

Can metascience (a combination of 21st century science and traditional wisdom) offer us any better insight into the whys and wherefores of positive versus negative behavior? I would like to suggest combining new concepts from quantum mechanics and the millennia-old Hermetic Principles may be helpful.

The Principle of Polarity

The subject of good and evil relates to the Principle of Polarity, one of seven Hermetic Principles. The articulators of this principle believed that every facet of the universe exists with two poles. As a coin has two sides, an "up" can exist only with a "down," a positive charge can only exist in relation to a negative one. The same principle applies beyond the physical plane.

An IQ score one calls high may be considered low by others. My strong sexual expression may be relatively weak on another's scale. Expressing love by one may be seen as meddling by another. Thus, we have no absolutes; all things exist on a gradient from one pole to another.

While the content or the energy form may change, the dynamics remain the same. Let's temporarily try to leave value judgments aside and consider behaviors as the expression of positive or negative energies. The Yin/Yang symbol has a dot of white in the black area and a dot of black in the white area to illustrate that anything which is more one kind than the other still has something of the other in it. Within each of us the shadows mirror the lights, and the phase shift from one to the other can be instantaneous. (Exquisite pleasure very easily crosses the threshold to pain, as laughter can quickly dissolve into tears.)

Balancing Energies/Behaviors

Any system over time manifests equal impulses for each polarity. For example, extremist Puritans had to act out the compensating impure energies within themselves. Their chosen outlet was to conduct witch-hunts. The cause of witch-hunts, or pogroms against Jews or any other group, lies not in the behavior of the victims, but in the unrecognized destructive energies of those who consider themselves totally good.

The form or content of polarized social behaviors may vary, but energy equivalence is always the result. The extent to which the 60s and 70s contained excessive amounts of an open, giving energy (whether time, love, sex, or social forgiveness), was mirrored by equal energy in the 80s and 90s devoted to protection and acquisition (whether property, financial success, or social judgments). Of course behavior in the 60s and 70s was in reaction to the exercise of power and the force of authority in the 40s and 50s. This is why extremes in any area always cause the arc of the reverse pendulum swing to be large.

Just as in physics where an action begets an equal reaction, those who would lead in relationships or in nations must understand that attempts to control are always reciprocated by movement toward freedom. You can't have one without the other.

Gandhi and King could not have mobilized so many people if the energy of oppression had not been so great. As the degree of government interference in individual lives increases, the energy of resistance builds up. Suspicion by a lover of a partner creates the need to assert that one's independence. One extreme leads to another in either case. Such is the challenge of navigating between the energy polarities good and evil.

Striving for Flexible Equilibrium

The spiral of progress, whether for an individual or a whole society, depends on continual shifting between the positive and negative poles. Testing one's range of emotional energy and learning from experience requires this freedom to shift from one side of a point to the other. Since we can never have one polarity without the other, we must identify the optimum range for creativity and growth, and keep ourselves within those changing limits.

Reducing Social Violence

The United States' current political and religious approach to "evil" is 90 degrees off course to deal with our rates of criminal violence, school shootings, hate-based crime, road rage, and all forms of self-abuse. Adding to our already excessive number of laws, developing new controls, adopting so-called "zero tolerance" policies in schools, conducting the "war on drugs" (which is really a war against people), and preaching commandments and other "thou shalt nots" all have the impact of increasing the negative energy charge in their targets.

Energetically, the reason proponents are so emotionally attached to such draconian measures is that acting on them permits a release of their own negative energy.

The more we repress the normal dissipating/destructive energies within others or ourselves by only allowing the expression of conserving/constructive charges, the greater the likelihood of subsequent antisocial, "evil" behavior. The answer is to find ways for everyone to release his or her negative emotional charges before they build up to the point of behavior that violates others. In the most common terms, all it takes are creative outlets for everyone to work off steam before the internal pressure is blamed on someone else.

Paul Von Ward is a cosmologist emphasizing the fields of prehistory, frontier science, and consciousness studies and the author of Solarian Legacy: Metascience & A New Renaissance. Visit his web site: for samples from his work on The Emerging New Human Story.