A great deal of human activity is prompted by the historic conflict between good and evil. Many of us have been conditioned religiously and culturally to believe that when we engage in any form of resistance to perceived evil that we are doing God's own work. Such involvement is an act of righteousness, in effect.
Logically, then those against whom we act in righteousness are minions of Satan. Nothing would seem to be more straightforward and incontrovertible in our own minds. We all honor above all our individual ability to determine what is right and wrong. Then we are driven by a combination of pride, aggressiveness, civic responsibility, and religious fervor to eliminate the proponents of the evil, often with a ruthlessness that justifies any and all means. Stated national principles, traditional ethical standards, and even religious doctrine are often summarily dismissed in the propagation of this "righteous warfare".
However, if one pays attention to the early Bible story you notice that Satan was the one who lured mankind into gaining the knowledge of good and evil, which forms the background for all the subsequent good versus evil drama. God warned Adam and by extension all humanity against the pursuit of good versus evil, but Satan intervened and subverted God's message. As a result mankind has been on a history long mission to make the world a better place by applying the knowledge of good and evil so as to eliminate one another. In the process the concept of righteousness has been defined to include repeating the original sin.
In a recent television documentary I heard sociologists suggest that human warfare was a form of catalyst for the development of civilization. Such is actually suggested by the Genesis story since the presence of the Tree of Knowledge made the acquisition of its fruit basically foreordained along with the resulting consequences to the mindset of mankind.
Humanity's obsession with conflict may have been a part of God's plan in the beginning, but nothing says that this initial need to experience the effects of the knowledge of good and evil should remain the focus of human thinking and behavior forever. In fact, the story of Jesus loudly proclaims that all the old ways in which mankind pursued righteousness were actually detrimental. Jesus taught and lived according to a different mindset, one that developed out of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge but not by pursuing that fruit but by learning to avoid its poisonous effects. Jesus, in stead, embraced the fruit of the Tree of Life, which mirror the fruits of the spirit.
The two Trees in the Garden beckon to us to this day. We pick and choose between them in almost every decision we make about our relationship with one another and simultaneously with God. When we operate out of the Tree of Knowledge we do Satan's bidding and not God's.