Now I would like to get back to the influence of any organization, whether it be government, religious, or any other group of people who claim to hold a set of beliefs in common.  Always bear in mind that the purpose of any organization is to perpetuate and expand their own power and influence.  That in and of itself is not necessarily evil.  An organization that tries to perpetuate and spread noble and mutually beneficial principles such as morality and freedom could be viewed as a benefit to society.  I would say that it is only beneficial if it can be certain (or as close to certain as possible) that all of their intentions and teachings really are noble and beneficial, and that the organization doesn’t become more important than the message they claim to represent or the goals they are trying to achieve.

     When investigating the claims made by any person, group, or organization (no matter what walk of life they are from or whatever kind of truth they claim to represent), an intelligent person should always question whether their claims are true, beneficial, and/or necessary, or whether their claims are really just authoritarian control mechanisms designed to control and exploit people.

     As I said earlier, there do exist very evil and manipulative people in the world, and you’ll find them in all walks of life.  To think that there wouldn’t be those out there who are in it just for themselves and their own power and greed would be naïve.  A free person must always be on guard for these people.

     Here is another extremely important lesson for you―it’s significance cannot be stressed enough: evil, controlling, exploitative, manipulative people are well aware of the good natures of those that they are trying to control and deceive.  They know that most people believe in the inherent goodness of those around them.  They also know that most good people never truly understand the depths unmoral people are willing to go to achieve their objectives.  They are counting on the people who are good to give them the benefit of the doubt, to believe that no one could really be that evil―that cunning and ruthless―to hurt or destroy their enemies or even innocent people to get what they want.  As long as people continue to give them the benefit of the doubt, they will continue to exploit and take advantage of them.

     One aspect that I think most people just don’t want to admit to themselves is that the world is or ever could be such an ugly place.  They want to have hope, to believe that everyone around them is essentially good, and that they’re not being lied to and manipulated.  A free person faces all of the facts regardless of how uncomfortable they may be.  It is part of maturing along the path of truth.

Excerpted from Them and Us: A Philosophy of Freedom by Adam Soto