On Being Good

There is a very subtle difference between being a good person and doing good things.  Most people care about such things and I don’t.  I might be making no sense so I will explain.

A good person usually does good things.  Someone who does good things is not necessarily a good person.  A good example of a good person is Mother Theresa.  An example of someone doing good is a mafia don.  How many times have we seen or heard news reports where the mafia dons or the drug kingpins are adored in their communities.  They do good deeds for the church or their neighborhood.  That does not make them good people.  When I was younger, I often wondered if the reason behind the good deeds is so that when they go to their final judgment, they can pull out all the good deeds to even out the bad things they have done.

Now, I am in a different place in my life.  Every day I work hard at not judging people.  The reason is simple:  we are all born the same.  Some of us are good people who were raised by good parents to do good things.  Others had no parents, or the ones they had were so busy trying to put food in the table that they did not notice when their kids did bad things.  Still others decided that easy money was better than a good, honest life.  We don’t know what happened along the way.  And when we judge someone, we are assuming that they had the same life we did.  That is impossible because we are all unique in one sense: we all perceive our lives different.  Want to test my theory?  If you have siblings, ask them about their memories of a particular event.  It could be a party, a move to a better house, a special occasion of any kind.  Then sit back and watch the show.  NONE OF YOU WILL HAVE THE SAME MEMORY.

In my house, there were four of us, two brothers and two sisters.  We all had the same mother and the same father.  For one thing, our parents were doing better financially when the girls (we were the younger ones) lived with them.  Even though my sister and I had the same things, we remember things differently.  That is normal.  Her memories are not less real than mine.  A lot goes into what makes a memory.  It is not just the event.  Your personality, upbringing, even peer pressure will add some color to your perception of reality.

What does all this mean?  That every single person on Earth is different and as such, it is unfair to judge another person based on your principles, upbringing, education, etc.  So, going back to where we started.  I no longer judge if a person is good or if the person is doing good things.  I am just happy that something good happens.  And when I can, as much as I can, I like to make good things happen for others.  Today, make something good happen to someone else.  Smile at the cashier in your grocery store.  Open the door for someone.  Donate money or time to your favorite cause.  Do something.  Even if you are not a good person all the time, maybe doing good will be contagious.  Maybe it is enough to know that you can impact somebody else in life.  Do something good today.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nerissa
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 11:24:45

    I whole heartedly agree with what you have stated, however I also believe that youu can tell a tree by the type of fruit that it bares. In order to be considered good your works have to speak for you. The goodness is like a light that radiates from within you for that is the God who lives inside of you that shows forth to the world. If you look for Him, you will see Him. The goodness in others, in what we say and do is what comes from God, goodness is synonymous with the God in you. When He dwells within you, the goodness comes forth to, it can’t help but, what is God, if not goodnesss?

  2. Sheila
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 14:28:03

    Another interesting blog……I loved the part where you brought up the “DON”. It may not be common knowledge, but many of my ancestors would not have been able to offer so many intellictual possibilities to future generations, without their cultural contributions. Like Bank of Italy, which is now Bank of America. “Bad” people are those that do nothing or do bad things……this is to say thieves, liars, and con men.
    That may seem judgemental, but true judgement is wisdom. And to be “aware” limits the necessity to just believe what comes out of a persons mouth. You know you have done a “good deed,” when the person, or persons you are helping can expand their heart(s), and the energy that they are projecting is truly from the “spirit,” not the “ego!”
    Here’s to random acts of kindness……and senseless acts of beauty!
    Sheila

  3. admin
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 23:10:13

    I hear what you are saying and I would like to add that some people have a checkered life and they are not bad people. I always use the example of a prostitute who never knew any other way of putting food on the table or the thief that figured that was his only way out. We have all seen and read stories where people deep down are good and just made some bad choices. However, we also know examples of people that are not so nice and use their nice deeds to “hide” their true enterprises.

    I will never forget when I was going to college and I met this really nice young guy. His dad had the biggest jewelry store in the island, state of the art, simply beautiful. The store was actually his legitimate business which hid his personal enterprise, murder for hire. For all those looking from the outside, all was sunshine and stars. My friend however, saw a man who was abusive to his wife and had a crack in his personality. When the Feds came to take him down, my friend was not totally surprised. This man and his business did a lot of charity donations and had a great business, hired many people and paid them very well. Again, the good deeds showed, they were just hiding the ugliness within. At the end of the day I hope someday this man sees the error of his ways. Today, I choose to value the good things he did and I hope that we are a little less judgmental of the bad because we don’t know what happened to him in life to turn him into this monster. I also have hope that my friend, wherever he is, forgave his father and did not let that ghost in his past, hunt him even now. Thanks so much for your point of view and keep writing.

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