Friday, January 21, 2011

The Three-fold Distinction of Good and Evil


By St. John Chrysostom

Things have a three-fold distinction: the first are good and cannot be evil, for example: wisdom, charity and the like; the second are evil and can never be good, for example: perversion, inhumanity and cruelty. The third, at times becomes this or at times becomes that, whenever, according to the disposition of those who make use of it.

How riches and poverty, and freedom and slavery, and power and disease and even death itself fall into the neutral distinction which, are neither good nor evil by themselves, but become either this or that according to the disposition of men and according to the use which men make of them. For example, if riches were good and poverty evil, then all rich men would be good and all the poor would be evil.

However, we are daily convinced that as there are good and evil rich men, so also are there good and evil poor men. The same can be applied to the healthy and the sick, to the free and the enslaved, to the satiated and the hungry, to those who are in authority and to those under subjugation. Even death is not evil, for the martyrs, through death, became more fortunate than all.

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