A classic example from the Bible reveals a more difficult determination and separation of light from darkness…of good from evil.
The revolt of Absalom against his father David the king (2 Sam. 15:1-6)…did not have a motivation coming from the top of the vertical spectrum-line of goodness and light…but rather was an attempted theft of the kingship of Israel (2 Sam. 15:6)…having an entirely false narrative that had the deceptive appearance of goodness and light…of Absalom claiming to potentially be a better ruler than his father David…when in fact this revolt was not based in the slightest upon the best of intentions of good governance for Israel…but instead was based upon Absalom’s self-centered ambition for power.
If Absalom had the good of the nation of Israel at heart…he would have followed in the biblical footsteps of his father David…of the Jewish heritage of walking in a journey of faith inaugurated for Abraham…by submitting himself to the unique God-composed journey of faith life-script destiny that God had envisioned specifically for Absalom…whatever that might have been…but which certainly would not have included an unjustified political revolt against the kingship of David…a kingship that God invested a lot of upfront time and effort into the preparation of David…to be the warrior/king of the nation during a critically perilous time in the history of Israel.
King David militarily subdued the threat of the surrounding enemy nations…bringing in a period of political stability and peace for Israel.
But evil…in this case…of Absalom coveting the throne of his father David the king…is not an example of pure, absolute evil for the sake of evil alone…located at the bottom of the vertical spectrum-line of goodness and light.
Absalom’s nearly successful revolt is an example of the putting forward of a cleverly crafted, false narrative…that would not have achieved the required objective of the need for a warrior/king on the throne and in power in Israel…instead placing an unqualified and untested…good looking smooth-talker…a non-military, wannabe ruler in charge as king…which would have been a disaster for Israel.
Unlike the clear-cut case of bank-robbery being morally evil…here in the political realm we can easily be deceived…today as then…because we are inclined to give the benefit-of-the-doubt to the candidate being the better talker…verbally presenting a more appealing package…being difficult to judge the relative light and darkness of the truth or falsity of the narrative being put forward for the populace to choose from…because the wrongly motivated appeal to obtain power is always wrapped in the deceptive clothing of promised and assumed good intentions.
This is one explanation for why we have this scenario of revolt and chaos repeated so often in human history…because the mixed motives of the use of power do not consist of the absolute goodness and brilliant pure light…located at the top of the vertical spectrum-line of goodness and light…that would produce the good governance we would like to conduct our lives within.
In hindsight…the Protestant Reformation is an easy determination between light and darkness…between good and evil…because selling salvation to raise money through indulgences…and the equally wrong doctrines of venerating religious relics and making pilgrimages to supposed “holy” sites…again for the purpose of raising money from the unwitting populace…were then and are now unbiblical, and have no support in scripture…and for that reason are no longer a part of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church.
Yet at the time…indeed for nearly a century…this was a life-and-death struggle over light and darkness…a struggle over whether the Bible should be translated into the popular languages in Europe…enabling the common people to read and judge for themselves whether these doctrines of the Roman Catholic church were correct or not…giving ordinary people the worth and value to be able to exercise their God-given capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning…to courageously reject the false narrative being put forward by the established authority of the institution of Catholicism…in the 1500’s to the early 1600’s.
The American Revolution of breaking away from King George the third in England…can in hindsight be judged to be a good and justified move by the American colonies in terms of light and darkness…achieving political and economic independence from the despotic rule of a tyrant king.
But at the time…some colonists could not see the rightness of this war of independence from England…instead accepting the false narrative that staying connected to England was the right approach…no matter how misguided were the policies towards the American colonies at that time.
In the 1860’s…during the American Civil War…in hindsight the abolition of slavery is a clear-cut victory of light over darkness…of good triumphing over evil…but at the time many people did not see it that way…fighting and dying in large numbers for the cause of a false narrative of the state’s rights to perpetuate human slavery.
My own father fought in World War II aboard a B-17 bomber…as part of the 8th Air Force stationed in England.
The Allied Forces at the time fought against what they considered to be a great evil…but large numbers of men and women on the opposing side instead fiercely fought for the cause of fascism, racial prejudice, and the tribalism of national pride…all of which in hindsight we now judge to be a false narrative…based upon false and misleading information…having an enormously destructive outcome…basically started through the appeal of one smooth-talking man…Adolf Hitler…making worldly promises clothed in the deceptive appearance of light…yet in reality having the darkest of hidden intentions.