For some reason, I’ve had a handful of conversations in the last 24 hours that have brought to mind a famous quote by Solzhenitsyn. One was about creationism/evolution (which I believe is a really unhelpful either/or debate), one was about Israel/Palestine, and one was actually a blog about atheism by Ricky Gervais. In each situation, both sides were claiming to be “the good guys”, and they built their case by making the other side “the bad guys”. In order to be 100% right, I need to prove that you’re 100% wrong. Right?
This polarizing, either-or, good vs. bad thinking is the source of so much conflict on earth – whether between nations or religions or friends or spouses. And I hate to admit how often I slip into it. But here’s a freight train of a quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:
“It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.
“…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?”