Good & bad, right & wrong, and the meaninglessness of words

In May of 2017, days after my college graduation, I left my family’s home in New Jersey to embark upon an old school road-trip that would conclude in San Francisco a couple of weeks later. With a plan to meet a buddy in Pittsburgh for lunch and then a few more in Chicago, a couple of whom would join me for the rest of the trip, the first leg to Pittsburgh was a solo drive. On the way, I needed to make only one stop for gas and a bathroom break in Hershey, PA, which is in fact the home of its namesake chocolate company, Hershey’s. After the trip, I wrote a book about the journey. Below is an excerpt about my time in the bathroom in Hershey.

I saw a few words scratched into the paint of the bathroom door. All of the words were crossed out except for the most recent one that was on top of all of the others, “BLOOD”. Some combination of the spontaneity of the trip upon which I was embarking and my general state of mind at the time motivated me take a quarter out of my wallet and put a cross through “BLOOD” just as someone had done to all of the words prior. Above it, I etched out a word of my own, “PEACE”. This action felt right, even though at face value, etching a word into the paint of a bathroom door of a gas station would be considered wrong. This is a good example of precisely the problem that I have with the way the world works as long as I have seen it which is that people tend to believe passionately that certain uncertain things are right or wrong or good or bad while ignoring the fact that context or specificities of such things can quite easily make it so that anything can be right AND wrong or good AND bad depending on the situation. Even this ignores my belief that there is really no good or bad or right or wrong in this world but that the only thing that there is is that there is and that what happens happens and it is what it is. The better way for me to describe this concept is to explain my belief that serves as the foundation for my belief that there is no definitive good or bad, which is that good and bad are only words representing polar opposites such as yin and yang. Words, I believe, hold no meaning, but rather serve as a guide of differentiation that can serve to communicate an ambiguous message from human to human that can never quite be perfectly communicated because there is no “thing” to communicate. Despite the dictionary’s best efforts, there is no pure meaning of any word. There is only a multitude of destinations that words can combine to drive you to. If this doesn’t make much sense, I blame it with a sense of irony on the ineffectiveness of my own words in this very instance to drive you to the imperfectly communicateable point that I am trying to make, and maybe that’s the best way that I can really explain it.