Question: Since evil people have done some good deeds at some points in their lives and good people have done some bad things in life how can one discern the difference between good and evil?
Answer: As you yourself suggested life is not Hollywood. There are no black and white good vs evil people. We all have “positive/negative” qualities.
Moreover since our perception of reality is 100% subjects as a result of our inherently self-serving, self-justifying, egotistic nature, we have to way of objectively discerning between good and evil.
If we want to have the right compass, we would need to follow Nature’s principles, Nature’s plan of evolution, its direction and final goal.
And in this respect – since the whole system is progressing towards increasing integration, the mutually responsible, mutually complementing cooperation of all diverse, seemingly incompatible elements – “good” is any action, intention that facilitates, strengthens connection, integration, while “evil” is anything that goes against connection, integration.
Now we can understand why “love others as yourself” – which is a symbolic expression describing Nature’s most fundamental law maintaining balance, homeostasis – is the single most important principle Human society should be built upon!