This was originally published on my old blog on 19 August 2014.
From a TED talk by Bryan Stevenson:
I’ve come to understand and to believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I believe that for every person on the planet. I think if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer.
The focus of evangelical Christianity is on first convincing people they are the worst of themselves. If you feel you are a bad person, this version of Christianity says: “Yes, you are. However, Jesus magically makes you good.”
The truth is that humans are capable of spectacular evil, and spectacular good. Every one of us. Nobody is exempt: if you are physically able to do something, good or bad, you can reach the mental space that will make it possible, given circumstances, conditioning, and so on. Yet the majority of us lean to the side of good. Knowing that we have that capacity for evil, makes us aware of what we need to avoid, so as not to slide that way.