Well, I wanted to document a few of the core principles that define who I am and how I think. As I was considering the subject, I decided that depravity is the highest principle by which I practically operate 24/7. Right or wrong, this is my number one principle for life.
The first question to ask is, "How does he define evil?" Well, as a Christian, evil is anything that goes against the will of God. For example, God states, "You shall not commit murder." Therefore, to take a weapon and kill someone unprovoked is evil.
However, on a more subtle level, all men and women seek to promote themselves above all others and God. Everyone has her own way of going about it, but we all do it. This is a basic tenant of my belief system.
Because of this, evil is often very subtle indeed. In fact, in some ways the subtle evils of self-promotion are even more sinister than the acts of outright evil—at least the latter can be easily classified. I do not believe that there exist gray areas between good and evil, but that human perception is imperfect and therefore we might only be able to see a fuzzy boundary with the limited information and clouded reasoning faculties we have.
Even after redemption, a Christian is partially subject to evil. In Christian circles we discuss sanctification versus justification. Justification begins when we admit our failings and are willing to accept Christ's sacrifice and forgiveness in our place. Justification places us in a right relationship with God and gives us the power for sanctification. Sanctification is the process of developing our new nature to do good things despite the fact that we still exist in a fallen world and possess a physical body that still exists within the obstinate old nature.
According to Christian teachings, anyone without Christ in his life isn't even capable of doing truly good deeds. Instead, he is capable of making the appearance of good deeds, but the motive behind those deeds is not to do the will of God, but to assert independence from Him.
Coming back to the practicality of the belief in the standard of human depravity, this affects my basic perception of everyone around me. I expect people to work to assert their independence from God above all else. The only way to get people to work together is to provide them with a goal that allows them to do this better or more easily as a group. This is one reason why I believe in democracy and capitalism: if everyone has to compete against each other to assert independence and gain power, the masses can make certain that no one force maintains dominance forever.
Unfortunately, my workplace doesn't subscribe very much to the capitalist system. As a state organization, we get much of our funding provided without much regard to what we do. Students will keep coming and paying in tuition simply because of existing momementum.
Furthermore, the University system has been aptly described as feudal in nature. Each department is headed by a fief (department head) whose power comes from his vassals (faculty). Each fief is then a vassal to the king (dean) who rules in a council of kings under the high king (president). All the while the peasantry (minor staff and students) have very little say in what happens. The power of the kings, fiefs, and vassals isn't in land as it is in true feudalism, but in the power of favortism and perceived influence (similar to how the power of currency is no longer in the gold standard, but in the perception of value of the units of that currency). Ranks are even assigned among the vassals and you must gain seniority and favor in order to gain rank.
All of this is why I currently am opposed to getting a doctorate. I have no desire to contribute to a feudal system.
Interestingly, this is also a reason why I am a big fan of Open Source. While some have called Open Source communism, I would agree with Eric Raymond's statement in Revolution OS, "I hate it when people do that!" The fact is that I like Open Source because it encourages democracy/capitalism in coding. When everyone can see what you did, your idea has to be genuinely better than someone elses to really succeed. Not only this, but I can write some code and someone can ask me to fix it and I can tell them, "Neener! Neener! Neener! No way, Hose!" Then, they can blow a raspberry back and say, "Hah! Bob over here will fix for you instead."
I no longer have a monopoly on support for my code and, therefore, I am forced to work for my living instead of creating something now that I can just subsist on for the rest of my life. I better do a good job or someone will take my business away. It changes the nature of my code from a product to a service. That doesn't make it so that I cannot make money, I just have to make my living a little differently.
Anyway, this principle has a basic affect on my perception of everything and how I understand things. If you read my blog, know that my thought process includes analysis of you, "Hmm... how is he going to act selfishly today?" It's not personal, I apply it to myself and everyone else, too. ;)