How to tell the good guys from the bad guys

The better the person the larger their tribe!

20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

1 John 4:20

This quote is in the Bible and appears to be religious. It has the words love and God in it. It is a religious way of saying something that we all know or should know. All of us are driven by our animal instincts to care for people who are genetically near us more than we do those who are genetically far from us.

Be good to your tribe is a rule that is as old as co-operation. It is also self defining. Your tribe is the people whom you are good to.

Start with a tribe of two: your present self and your future self. Lookout for your own best interests. Start with not lying to yourself. People deceive when they want other people to make bad decisions’. If you lie to yourself you are setting your future self up to make a bad decision. You do it because your primitive self can’t face the pain of reality. Masking the pain and keeps you from treating the underlying condition. Be good to your future self. Let your present self accept the pain so your future self can benefit. That is what good people do. People who ruin their health with recreational drugs claim they are not bad people because they are only hurting themselves. I’m very suspicious of that claim. I think they are lying. If someone doesn’t even care about themselves they probably don’t care about anyone else either.

The next people to be good to are the people close to you. We all have angel instincts that drive us to be good to our own children, relatives and friends. These are the people close to us. The closer the relationship the better you should treat them. For a long time divorce and adultery were negatives for a political career. It is logical to think that if a politician can’t be loyal to their spouse they are not going to be loyal to something like their voters or country. If you betrayed your wife you might betray your country too. People are complicated and life situations are complicated. There is never one thing that causes or results in another. However a person who is not good to the people close to them is not likely to be good to you either. They are probably not good people.

If you are able, as much as it is in you, try to extend your circle of care as far as you can. Everyone has people in their life whom they interact with but they are not friends. They are acquaintances and less. They are the people we may work with or go to school with but don’t know well. They are the people on the same bus as us whom we don’t know at all. At the very limit it is the people in our country and the whole human race.

Even very wicked people know how to be good to their own tribe. They know the rules of reciprocity and they apply them to their own gang. Every criminal gang has rules about not touching another gang member’s girl or killing another gang member. They still break the rules because they are wicked people but they know them. Gang members will have sex with another tribe members female. They know its wrong because they will murder a tribe member who has sex with their female. They steal from each other, murder each other and tell lies to each other, all in violation of  the basic tenets of us versus them.

Despite the internal bickering criminal gangs make formidable tribes. Genghis Khan killed so many people that he has been blamed for a period of global cooling. The fallow farms reverted to forest and took carbon dioxide out of the air.  As evil as he was, he was very loyal to his favorite wife and good to the Mongolian people. Adolf Hitler was a bit of a health nut so he was good to himself. He was reasonably, though not totally, loyal to Eva Braun. He killed a lot of people but not many of them were from his own tribe. If he had won he would be remembered like Genghis Khan, as someone who was good to his own people. Joseph Stalin did win and is remembered fondly by some. He was not loyal to wife and didn’t care about his children. It was more deadly to be a close associate of Stalin’s than it was to be an average citizen. Most of the people he killed were his own citizens. Using tribe size as a measure of wickedness, he was probably the most wicked of all.

Good people have a very large tribe. They are good to themselves and to people close to them. They are also good to people who are not close. At the very limit of goodness are people who are good to even their enemies. The better the person the larger the tribe.


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