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A Deep Think

What is good?
…that which has merit, is desirable, or pleasing?

Who wants to be good, to have value?
As a mostly-perfectionist, I want to be good. I am not sure why, I just have a drive to be good – good as this elusive, nebulous judgment that just cannot be nailed down.
I want to be a good student. And by good, I mean to get the best marks every time – not just because, but because I put forth the effort required for high marks.
I want to be a good friend. The type of friend that gives comfort, refreshment, and support.
I want to be a good daughter, and always make my parents proud.
I want to be a good mother, loving and supporting my children as they strive for value.
I want to be good partner, meshing into the mythical oneness that is the pinnacle of human experience.

I am constantly striving for good…for the good. In my appearance, I want to look as good as I possibly can. In my home, I want it to be as good as we can afford – as comfortable, tidy, and welcoming – as good as possible. Even in my hobbies, I want to be good.
I have to ask myself where this desire for good comes from, because it is glaringly obvious that a lot of people don’t feel this same drive for goodness. Sometimes I wonder if it is even considered.

Religion can perhaps relieve this striving. Check off a list of religious obligations – pray, read the sacred texts, believe a certain way, act according to the social boundaries – and then you can consider yourself good. You can even be so good that you can look around and judge others who are not good – such as those who love differently than you, or need differently. Self-righteousness or self-goodness can feel good, I guess. But is that really good?

Social hierarchy can lead one to believe they are good. The privilege of not being in the oppressed class can lead some to feel that it is actually a good thing to be mean or cruel to those not privileged. Sure, even hating others because they are different can feel good, or at least it would appear. But is this really good?

Money can trick people into feeling good. Having enough is one thing, but having so much that you can do whatever you like, say whatever you like, or act however you like because you are able to buy your way out of situations probably feels good, but that is definitely not good, in my view.

And does being good, being considered good, even have value? And if so, why?
What good is it to be honest when telling half-truths and affirming myths seems to be the norm?
What good is it to treat others with respect when none is reciprocated or even expected?
What good is it to support those who sound good, but behave in selfish ways that hurt others?
What good is it to strive for cleanliness, modesty, or attractiveness if it is only used against the one striving? The more a person tries to look good, the more they make themselves into an object for the eyes of others. How can that be good?

What good is it to be compassionate toward others, to care about their life situation and experience, if those intentions are twisted and convoluted by others due to jealously, resentment, or competition?
I want to believe that there is value in being good, and that by being good, I have value. By adding goodness to my surroundings and community through my actions, I add goodness to humanity. But is that selfish? Or am I just talking in circles?

I guess I want everyone to be good, to have good intentions toward others, to be able to see what is good and what is only making the appearance of good for selfish purposes.

So, how about this…
if you are hurting people with your self-righteousness, that is not good.
Or, if you hurt people or lie in order to get your way, that is not good.
Or, if you consider yourself good but use people, mistreat people, or ignore the needs of others in deference to yourself, that is not good.

And what happens when we all act selfishly? Or ignorantly? Or with apathy? Is that good? Does it result in good? Does it spread goodness? Does it add value?

I struggle to find value, purpose, and the good in life.
I sought for value in religion, but all I found was self-righteousness disguised as value.
I sought for value in academics, but all I found was criticism disguised as value.
I sought for value in producing nice things, but all it left me with was a lot of stuff, but not value.
I sought for value in employment, but I quickly discovered that I was just a number easily forgotten.

So what gives value? What is good?

And that is a good question.


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