The question of highest and best good can be tricky in complex situations. And everything in the physical world tends to be tricky. I think about this when I have to choose between two ways of looking at highest and best good.
For example, slugs are invading my garden as I write this. When I ask the question of highest and best good for the system, what do I include? There’s me, of course. I want to include the plants and the food I’ll get from them. There are all the other animals and insects that are part of the garden ecology. And then there are the slugs.
Getting rid of the slugs is best for my garden and me, but probably not best for the slugs. For those of you who don’t know, slugs are migratory. In other words, if I move them away from the garden, there’s a good chance they will come back. They also hide really well so there’s no way I could find all of them.
What I decided was to put out pellets that are toxic only to slugs and snails. It’s true that this is probably not the highest good for the slugs. However, it is the slugs’ choice to come into the garden. And it is their choice to eat the pellets. There are plenty of other places on my property where they could live and eat well.
There is no danger that protecting the garden in this way will seriously harm the slug population here. To do anything different would not be the highest good for my garden or me. The garden needs my protection and the slugs do not.
My spirit advisers agreed. Their thought was that in the physical world the balance of nature is important. Some beings (plants, animals, insects, or whatever) die so that others can live. It’s what physical life is all about.
And it gives us the responsibility to look carefully at the choices we make. We may never find a perfect choice in the physical world, so we need to find the one that leads to the highest and best good for the world we are in. No one said life in the physical world would be easy.