The Choice of Goodness

I crave intelligent conversation. I crave intelligent topics that actually make my brain look at things in a different way. I love sharing ideas and dissecting thoughts. I also love being able to put those away and have mindless fun. This weekend I did a lot of both. My friend Tom is a pinball and old atari games collector. We have lunch together about once a month when we can, but we had not been doing it in the past couple of months. I am glad we had the chance to see each other a couple of times this past week because it finally made something in my head click.

I have been having this discussion with EmawKC for a while about people’s goodness. The simple idea begins as just a simple discussion about how being a nice person is a choice. You either chose to be a good person, help others, care about others, etc. However, this is a lot more complicated than that. Being apathetic is also a choice and requires no work… but does that make you a good or bad person? What about the person that seems to work very hard at being disliked by others? Are we good or bad by nature, do our instincts rule us?

There is a really weird twist to this whole topic, and it has to do with knowledge. Some people claim ignorance as a shield for their behavior. If they don’t “know” they are being corrosive to a situation, they do no claim responsibility. We also little by little become trained to dismiss stupidity in conversation as ignorance. Inappropriate behavior is rampant and so many claim that political correctness is what made it all worse. It just becomes harder and harder to interact with people that are close minded or have views that conflict with what you believe is reality.

I am not an expert on anything, and most of what I post here is more exploration than postulation. Ideas string together to maybe spark some knowledge gathering and sharing. I can speak of what I have gone through and done, and encourage someone towards the path of possibility. Would you take financial advice from a beggar on the street? What about if he was a wall street guru that through circumstances lost his sanity and mind, except for that of sharp numbers?

Through my conversation I have come to the conclusion that so many points of view are so wrong that they are not even worth my time. So many people in this society have become so accustomed to the individualism mantra that anything opposite sounds foreign. We are a society in war with the thought of community and even less of a clue when it comes to cultural identity. We turned personal responsibility into a game of finger pointing and forgot what it really means. People today don’t look at a situation to see how they help create it, but rather how they can blame someone else for placing them on that situation.

So it goes back to the choice. I think change is coming, change has come. This is not Obama, or politics, or even religion. It simply means that in my experience a choice has to be made by the individual and a path has to be chosen. Are you good by choice? Do you try to be a nice person? Do you try to care for others?

9 Responses to The Choice of Goodness

  1. Hmmm….so many points of view are so wrong that they are not even worth your time, eh? My my Logtar, it seems we are looking down our nose at others’ opinions. Yay or nay?

    My ramblings: I think many people are nice because of the “What If”. What if there’s a Heaven and a Hell? If I’m “bad”, will I go to Hell for all eternity? What if I’m nice to that person? Will they help me when I need it? I think sometimes it’s about the fear of the unknown. Not necessarily altruistic, but human nature isn’t. And the definition of “good” and “bad” are in the eye of the beholder, aren’t they? Are you a bad person because you walk past that homeless man and decide not to give him any money? Does that make you heartless? Is somebody good because they decide not to have biological children and not adopt? Or does that make them bad because they don’t adopt? Edward, the vampire in Twilight is an interesting example (I just watched it so I have to put this in): he’s a vampire, which is bad because he sucks the lifeblood out of animals. But because he doesn’t do it to humans, then he’s good. And he cares for Bella, so that makes him good. Right?

    It could be the cynic in me, but if you honestly ask this question, you will not get honest answers because people deep down want to believe that of course they are caring and nice (myself included – I’m not an alien here). They forget that time they were rude to the waiter (which is bad, right?) or the time they spanked the dog for pooping on the carpet, or when they yelled at their kid for no good reason other than they were tired, the kid was whiny, and they lost their cool for a second. But this again leads us back to everyone’s interpretation. The best thing you can do is treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s often forgotten, especially today, and yes, it’s easy to be ignorant and claim zero responsibility. It’s frustrating to see a problem and not be able to do anything about it. But people do learn, eventually. They just may have to go to jail, or bankrupt a company, or….to understand.

  2. do unto others like you would want them to do unto you. treat people like humans. i guess. flawed maybe. we should never stop searchhing for goodness within us.

  3. Well, “goodness” is being judged on a human standard, right? So one person may think they are good but someone observing them thinks that person is a jerk. Jesus said there is no one good but God =) Although most of us like to think we are good, just like Melinda said, there is always a time when we loose it.

    This can lead you into another debate, Nature vs. Nurture. If <> was raised by a different family or in a different part of the world, would they have still turned into an evil person?

  4. @Melinda

    I definetly look down upon some people’s opinions. To give you a couple, the person that believe that being overweight, even morbidly, is simply the result of laziness and don’t think any further than that… most of the time that leads to looking down at people. (I look down upon that.) Also to give you another example, the people that think that illegal immigrants are the scourge of this earth and are to be not just deported but shot if possible so they don’t cross the border again. (Even thought I don’t believe that it is right to come here illegally and believe that reform of the system and Mexico taking care of its own issues is in order.)

    There is a saying that I grew up hearing all the time (Haz el bien sin mirar a quien) which translates to “Do good without looking at whom.” The closest I have ever heard here is, the golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I am not being a cultural snob here, since my culture is more of a mix than one or the other, but I believe that this society does good based on an “if” like you pointed out. Doing good without expecting something back is more along the lines of what I believe being truly good is all about. The concept of karma is one that I respect, but we often think too much of instant karma or what can I get…

  5. I see your point re: the weight and the immigrants. This may be the start of a different post, but if you look down upon those people for their opinions, do you treat them poorly? (Consequently, does that make you a bad person?) Or do you respect that everyone has an opinion, even though you believe it’s wrong (and with your examples, I agree with you)?

    And yes, I think that being nice simply because you want to, not because you expect something in return, is the right way to go, and I believe we don’t see much of it nowadays. That’s not to say it’s not out there; more, our culture feeds on dirty laundry. (It was a song, after all, so it must be true.) We don’t get in a tizzy when people are nice. We freak out when there’s a murderer on the loose, or when someone has bombed one of our embassies. When was the last time your neighbor called you up and said, “Did you hear what little Timmy did? He gave me a basket of flowers.” You’re more likely to get called when little Timmy blasts a classmate for being picked on.

    Gandhi had it right: be the change you seek in your world.

  6. I tend to not look down upon people, but rather opinions and ideas. Not just because they are different, but the ones I find disrespectful or truly ignorant. That said, I have been “bad” and looked down upon someone because of a close minded stance. Perfect example is my friend Travis, who I love, but can be at times so disrespectful of groups of people its not even funny. However, I still consider him a close friend and love the fact that I am a huge oxymoron in his life.

    However, I did hear something from someone that funny enough is not even a friend anymore, but that person said that they were very selective with who they spent their time with. I believe this also to be important, and spending your time with people that are ignorant or are not contributing to you in any positive way can be a waste of your time.

    Perfect example is when I went to see Chelsea Handler in Vegas, I considered that time a total waste.

  7. OK Nice and Good are different concepts for me. Nice is what I am in the office (and at other times but the office is the most obvious). It includes being polite, chatty, helpful, smiling, telling jokes, holding doors, all for people I might not know. Some days because of how hateful those people are, I may have used up all of my “nice” by the time I get to interact with the people I care about.

    I’ll admit, I am a nice guy totally out of self preservation. It’s usually easier to get by in society by being nice. Well, sometimes being an asshole pays, but I have to be really angry to make that work.

    My biggest prejudice against others, is closed mindedness. My beliefs are fairly fluid, I am usually willing to consider other points of view, and adapt my own if warranted. To me, not at least accepting other positions is not just closed minded but wrong. And I’ll admit I am not always a good enough person to treat those folks nicely.

    Being a good person is another issue, and let me say that while many of my friends will say I am one, I have a long way to go in my own opinion. That’s a discussion for later.

  8. thats funny way to look at that night loggy, I didnt like the chelsea handler part of the comedy routine but I dont consider it a waste of my time because the act before her had me pissing myself. I couldnt of had one without the other thus I combine them into the same night.

    I have always felt that there is almost always something about friends that gets your goat but looking past those instances and taking the good they have to offer is what its all about. Hell! you have to call your friends on their bullsh!t from time to time but that doesnt mean I think lesser of them because they think something i dont.

  9. Protus,

    There is actually not a lot that can get my goat truly going unless I care about the person. I have no problem on calling my friend’s BS at all, and I don’t think any less of them because of views that might be opposite than mine. I actually have always admired the way you like to hear counter points to everything you discuss and enjoyed having conversations with you about those things.

    My discussions with my friends lately have a lot to do with the current state of the economy and how so many people are simply finger pointing at this or that without really either investigating things or truly paying attention. We discussed a lot about knowledge and how sometimes knowing how the financial world really works and what going into it makes most people’s head spin, yet everyone now is an expert on economic policy.

    Most of the people with strong opinions about the current state of things, media, pro athletes, and a couple of things I have read, are quick to point fingers but nobody every is introspective about what happened… did I help elect someone that changed a policy that later is hurting things? its funny to hear some of their points of view. That is what this post is mostly about and why I sometimes have to check my sanity when I read something written or said by Limbaugh or some other polarizing figure from either side. So I go back to my previous statement that some people are just a waste of time.

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