Good fruit and bad fruit

I have been thinking about CHARACTER, and whether there is such a thing as natural good and evil, or whether we are just products of our environments. Understanding character helps us understand more about how we fit into our environment and how we can relate to each other. But it’s difficult to be objective when trying to assess our own or another person’s qualities. Some say that if you want to know a person, you should look at the friends they keep. Yet another way of seeing a person’s character is explained in the Bible through the analogy of trees bearing fruit.

In this analogy, the qualities of human beings are revealed by what they do, just as the quality of a tree is shown by the type of fruit it bears. This is an interesting metaphor, and the way I understand it, it has nothing to do with materialistic accomplishments (e.g. a tree can bear a large quantity of fruit, but the fruit could be good or bad, just as a person could have a lot of wealth, but the wealth could come from good work or unethical work). What we give out to the world in terms of our service to humanity, our contribution of time and effort is what matters in this analogy.

But I feel that a label such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ leaves little room for development and does not take account of the fact that human beings have the potential to change. Even a tree, if it receives good soil, water and sunshine, will bear better fruit than if it grows without vital nutrients.

People, like all things in nature, depend on their environments. The big difference is that human beings have the conscious ability to change themselves and transform their environments.