It is safe to assume that you, reader, try to be a good person. You may consider these actions as a part of your “do good list:”
– Eat healthy foods and exercise your body
– Read books to stimulate your mind
– Call your parents/grandparents on a regular basis
– Teach your children to be kind
– Maintain a job, pay taxes, and support the local economy
– Volunteer for local community organizations
– Go to church/synagogue/prayer and serve as an active member of a religious community
– Donate money
– Smile at others on the street
…and the list, of course, goes on.
What would you add to this list?
What sets the foundation to be a “good person?”
Lately, I do not feel like I meet my own standard of goodness that I set for myself. I find that I get pulled into the orbit of others who gossip or rip others apart, even with the most diaphanous of veils placed over the conversation with a quick, “I’m just sayin’” as the notice of innocence. In a similar vein, I hear a lot of people despair that the current political climate draws their internal dialogue to a dark place that they do not enjoy. One can feel like she is thrashed by emotional waves without control.
Chinwagging, nattering blabbermouth… That’s how I feel afterward, even if it is just an agreement to someone else’s story. I get pulled in, simply wanting to please my conversationalist. Afterward, I feel horrible. I feel like I placed my true nature to the side in lieu of a fleeting moment of comfortable acceptance. I do not doubt that there are others who feel the same.
I write this because we have all be there: the moment our bodies (read: mouths) defy our spirit. It makes me think about what criteria we place around ourselves to delineate the “good person” status. We all want to think of ourselves as being “good” in some way, but it is such an abstract idea that we – at least, I – can whiz right by it without noticing, until too late. Goodness, though sometimes disparaged, is actually sought after because it is just plain easier. Strangely, it takes a lot of work to be nasty – and it takes a toll on our mind, body, and spirit.
When we place standards that are entirely outward shows of goodness (like volunteering or civic duty) then it gives us the ability to ignore internal principles – also commonly known as character. While we eventually may accumulate an audience for such integrity, it is done strictly for personal accomplishment, thus, much harder than outward action. It is also the stuff that keeps one from feeling “icky” because the only person who actually feels the constant repercussions is you. Internal good is often showcased in the positive, letting others experience the outward affects of a sparkling spirit. While, on the flip side, the dank negative seeps deep into our core.
No, this is not a charge for character-bashing extremism. It is something unseen, something that can only be determined by the individual, but it will set the course for one’s entire life. This is not about being a “goody two shoes” or hypocrite. It is about realizing that every day brings a new opportunity to be a part of something good, whether everyone else knows it or not. It is about actually making a difference in the web of life around you.
Yes. You can still be edgy and have goodness in your heart.
Actually, this seems to be the most radical thing ever.
Once we realize that the benefactor(s) to a life of goodwill to others is actually ourselves, maybe we can get on board. But what do we do when we are caught in the lightning quick circumstances that start to draw us away from what we want for ourselves? It is certainly not the other person’s fault. We make choices for ourselves. I think the first place to begin is to direct kindness to ourselves, always knowing we have a fresh start waiting in the next moment.