The ancient Persian religion, Zoroasterism, a faith older than Judaism and Islam, first proclaimed the dualism of humanity; the good, symbolized by light, the bad, or evil side of man, represented by darkness. This, seemingly reductive concept of duality, has, in fact, been replicated in literature and folk belief, continuously, to the present day; “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, the novels of Herman Hesse, such as “Damien,” “Siddhartha” and “Steppenwolf”, Frederic Nietzsche’s Good and Evil,” “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, and the movie series, “Star Wars, uniformly, draw a clear, determinative line, between the light of goodness, or virtue, and the darkness of the evil and the degenerate persona.
Many classic scenarios in movies, plays and novels, feature a villain and an easily identified, “good guy;” in westerns, it is the man in the white cowboy hat, and the “villain”, often seen wearing a black one. In fairness, however, it appears that, from time to time, equivocal issues arise, which provide only tenuous degrees of clarity, and can result in benevolent, as well as malevolent, outcomes. These, confusing, or ambiguous issues, are often referred to as “neither black nor white.” To be complete, on this subject, we would observe that, it is immensely disturbing, when the best choice is completely unknown, or beyond volitional ken (ex.: “The Lady or the Tiger”).
The Medieval period exemplifying superstition and ignorance, is known by scholars, as the “Dark Ages,” and the later advances in reason and empiricism of the 18th Century, is given the appropriate title of “The Age of Enlightenment.” Additionally, it is commonly said, that when one finally solves a difficult problem, or at last, understands himself, that he “has seen the light;” as opposed to, a state of continued ignorance or confusion, referred to as “still in the dark.” “Seeing the bright light of day,” is a similar metaphor, for finally arriving at a solution, or at a meaningful realization.
It is our offhand speculation, that the use of light, for goodness, and dark, for evil, may possibly have its derivation, from the planetary phenomena of the day, (safer, clear vision, ease of movement) and the night, (dangerous, poor vision, difficulty of movement.) Whatever the historical derivation may be, the words, light and dark, have been eternally used as metaphors, for virtue and reason, or, alternately, ignorance and evil.
The human persona is potentially known, to evince good, or acceptable inclinations, as well as other predispositions, which are, to applicable degrees, unreasonable or morally unacceptable. A “good person” is one that strives to act morally, honestly and empathically. The contrasting personality is selfish, ego-oriented and disinterested in the possible impact, of his acts or statements, upon others. The differences, in awareness, like the differences in understanding, are often symbolized by the differing metaphors, “enlightened” versus, “in the dark.” It would seem empirically reasonable, to assume that few persons are entirely good, like the literary, “Goldilocks” or entirely bad like, the (disastrously) real, Adolph Hitler.
There are, two celebrated real-life examples of vastly contrasting personalities, which we sought to highlight in this writing; one exceptionally, good, the other, by stark contrast, unforgivingly bad. Each, of these two persons, is nuanced from the average persona, and representing, a complete contrast on any Zoroastrian light and darkness scale. It should surprise no one, that these two selected, singularly contrasting examples, are Fred Rogers and Donald J. Trump.
Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers”) was a television host of a very popular children’s program and an exemplar of virtue and lovingkindness. He was a gentle counselor to his many childhood viewers, in childhood lessons of love, kindness and, above all, empathy. It is impossible to forget the program where Fred Rogers, sung, lovingly, to a smiling child, confined to a wheelchair and afflicted with the horribly symptomatic spasms and personal disabilities of cerebral palsy, the following song, beginning with, “It is YOU, I like, not the way you look, or the clothes you wear, or the way you do your hair…” the spasmodic and disabled child, smiled and sang joyfully, as best he could, along with Fred and the other children in the studio. Whenever we recall the specific television program, we find ourselves emotionally, choked up. If light does indeed, symbolize the good in humanity, Fred Roger’s light was brighter than a modern halogen searchlight.
We also maintain another mental picture of the contrasting, dark side of humanity, and one which is unfortunately, also unforgettable. The daily acts and statements of Donald J. Trump, are so reprehensible, mendacious and embarrassingly immoral, that it might, conceivably, prove somewhat difficult to summon up an individual example, truly darker than the rest. But not for us. We have the recollection of a behavior, performed by him, before the television cameras, and millions of viewers; one that is pure evil, darker and even more reprehensible, than the many other acts of Trump (which are evilly uncountable.) We had not, until then, appreciated or imagined, the full, toxic and neurotic, extent of the cruel and awful behavior of which, the despicable, Donald J. Trump was truly, capable. This eternally memorable incident, was his gleeful, clownish, mimicking, on public television, of the involuntary, spasmodic movements of a questioning reporter, who was uncontrollably, manifesting the extreme and terrible, classic symptoms of cerebral palsy. Of all of his acts of abuse of office, criminality, immorality and overt bigotry, this singular act, should earn Donald J. Trump, for such spontaneous cruelty, insensitivity and disgraceful conduct, a place of special honor, at the darkest and lowest ring of Dante’s Inferno.
We are thankful, that, in our occasional ruminations about the general nature of humanity, we can, mercifully recall, the spiritually uplifting memories of Fred Rogers, a truly bright light, to contrast with the pitch- black persona of Donald J. Trump.