Are People Basically Good or Evil?


I don’t think that people can be necessarily good or evil, but who am I to decide? Like the picture above, it really isn’t anyone’s decision to decide if people are good or evil. It is merely an opinion. In my opinion, I think people fall somewhere in between good and evil, with a few people skewed more to one side than the other. I would say that a person’s actions definitely determine whether they lean more towards the good or evil side. For example, someone who always put others before themselves would be skewed more towards being a good person. But a dictator or leader who kills innocent people for no reason, like many instances in Emergency Sex, they would definitely be a lot closer to evil. However, I don’t think anyone is by definition a good or evil person. Everyone sins whether it’s something big or small. In Emergency Sex, I would definitely say that Ken and Andrew are closer to being a “good” person than Heidi is, but not by much because overall she meant well by her intentions. Throughout the book, Ken and Andrew were always putting the needs of people before them. Heidi seemed a little more into herself and a little too concerned with finding a “lover” while stationed in different areas. While working overseas, her main focus should have been on the reason she was there and that reason was certainly not to find a boyfriend or husband. Several times throughout the book it is mentioned that she was dating someone and a man seemed to be one of her top priorities. Even Ken fell into this realm a few times but certainly not as often as Heidi. I just found it interesting that while in the middle of a warring country with people dying around you every day, she still had the time to be concerned with a “lover.”

Now I’m not saying that someone who is constantly partaking in service trips or peace missions should be considered in the same range as someone who kills people or instructs others to kill them just for the sake of killing someone. The latter of the two would definitely be close to evil but I don’t think God would intentionally put evil people on His earth. I found an article that reinforces my opinion that people fluctuate between good and evil, but are not necessarily one or the other, with the exception of a small percentage of the overall population of the world. In the article Are Humans Good or Evil?, Paul J. Zak says of his research and experience that “five percent of the population who do not have an oxytocin (known as the “love” hormone) response and are pathologically selfish, and another few percent who are nearly pathologically virtuous. The rest of us vacillate between good and evil (Zak).” Zak still believes that a few people are actually good or evil, but for the most part we both share the same opinion that 99.9% of the population is somewhere in between. I think every person at some point in their life, some more than others, have a tendency to do evil acts. I consider sinning an evil act because it goes against what God intended. After attending Catholic school for twelve years, I know the Ten Commandments like the back of my hand, and it has been enforced throughout my twelve years at Catholic school that going against these “rules” so to speak is an evil act.




Another article that i found, titled Are Humans Inherently Good or Evil?, reinforces another point that I made involving God. It states that “God would not create someone who was inherently evil. People do sin, and some people could even be considered ‘evil,’ but overall I feel that most people do try and lead a good life by being kind to others and helping those in need (E.A.M.)” I definitely agree with this statement and it was the point I was trying to make in my previous paragraph. I think this statement also goes hand in hand with the book Emergency Sex. Ken, Andrew and Heidi definitely sinned throughout the book, but they were still sacrificing their time and risking their lives to be in dangerous places just to help others in need and try to bring peace to a warring nation. However, their sins are evident. At one point in the book, when Heidi is seeing a man named James, she is sleeping with him and says “better they think I’m the devil’s spawn then some movie star,” in regards to women in the village seeing her with this man James (Cain, Postlewait and Thomson, 100.) Also, Andrew is frustrated with someone and thinks in his mind “go to hell (Cain, Postlewait and Thomson, 108.” Wishing anyone to hell is definitely a more “evil” than “good” thought. However, like I said, despite these sporadic acts they still have the intentions to help others.

Overall, I do not think that people are “good” or “evil,” and I also do not think that cultures are basically good or bad either. It is apparent in Emergency Sex that there are some people in various countries that are more evil than others, especially in places like Haiti and Rwanda, which were two places traveled to by Ken, Andrew and Heidi. There were leaders in these countries that had people killed for no reason and by gruesome measures that were completely unnecessary. But just because .0001% of the population was this way, I do not think that makes their culture “evil” or “bad.” They shouldn’t get the reputation of an evil country or culture because of the acts of a few individuals. Generally people in all countries lean more towards “good,” so their country should be recognized as so.


Zak, Paul J. “Are Humans Good or Evil?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 10 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 June 2013. <>.
E.A.M. “Are Humans Inherently Good or Evil?” N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2013. <>.
Cain, Kenneth, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson. Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a War Zone. London: Ebury, 2004. Print.
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