The French Revolution was bringing about an

The Evil Within Us Everyone has heard that history repeats itself. However, is it really possible to believe that one of the greatest authors of all times, Charles Dickens, could have practically predicted the future? Well, it almost appears as if he has. In the opening of his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens juxtaposes ideas about good and evil, wealthy and poor, and hope and despair, which apply both in 18th Century London and Paris, as well as modern-day United States. During the French Revolution when the story takes place, it truly “was the best of times” for some and “the worst of times” for others (1).

As the anarchical system collapsed, those who lived good lives prior to the Revolution were living the worst times of their lives; though for those who had only known poverty and starvation, their lives were looking up. Though not always to the life-and-death extremes, the same concept holds true today. As events continue to unfold, they will always benefit one group over another. Nothing can satisfy everyone. Even things like welfare programs, which are designed to help the most helpless, come at a price to wealthier Americans through things like tax increases. What the issue truly boils down to is the haves and have-nots.

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People with access to capital power always want more. People with limited resources always want to lower the gap between themselves and the upper class. During the French Revolution, this separation of wealth was at an all-time high. The wealthy had everything and the poor had nothing. Though to less of an extreme, a similar wealth gap can be seen in America. Just in 2007, the wealthiest 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the poorest 80% of the population owned 14%. This will always be a struggle.

In the late 1700’s, some thought the French Revolution was bringing about an “age of wisdom.” For some, it was a catalyst for a new more equal society: a democratic principle that had been long overdue. For others, it was the epitome of “foolishness” (1). Though in the world people live in today, there is no looming civil war, there are still many things that represent both innovation and intelligence, as well as idiocy and irresponsibility.

Take technology, for instance. Humanity is at the peak of innovation right now. Technology has never been advancing so rapidly. There have perhaps never been a greater collaboration of great minds inspiring breakthroughs in all facets of life.

However, despite this illustrious age, it has been often said that this technology is bringing out the foolishness within people. Research has consistently shown the decline of this generation’s social skills and attention span. Perhaps the intelligence surrounding people leads them to rely on others rather than continuing the development of their own skills, making them weaker and more dependent.

For the citizens oppressed by the government system in France during the 18th century, events leading up to the revolution like the Proclamation of the Rights of Man represented a “spring of hope.” On the other hand, for those who held power in the original system, the death and loss of power presented to them during the revolution was a “winter of despair” (1). A great example of this today is politics: think about the election of Donald Trump. For those who want the government out of their lives, this is a time of hope. They feel that their life aspirations are being fulfilled and that they have a better future ahead of them. On the other hand, think to people who rely on Obama-era programs like the Dreamers Act and the Affordable Healthcare Act feel that they are losing programs essential to providing them basic human rights. Reasonably, they feel that a quadrennial of despair is before them. Likely the reason it seems as though Dickens could reveal the future was not that he was able to time travel or had some magic looking glass, but rather that these are ideas that will continue for as long as time itself exists.

While he does it in many more words, the essence of what Dickens is trying to say is that the world was filled with good and the world was filled with evil. While this may seem contradictory, it actually makes complete sense. Without the concept of good, evil could not really exist. Just as human beings cannot know joy without knowing pain, if no one was a bad person, people would have no idea that everyone was good. As hard as it is to accept, there is no such thing as a utopia. There will always be people who manipulate others or take advantage of the good in the world. Humanity will never be able to eliminate either good or evil.

As the two forces continue to struggle against one another, people cannot try to end the evil in other people, or even within themselves. Rather, individuals must try to live through and act on the good in us, and then maybe in the end, the good will win out.


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