Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Good vs. Bad

Much has been lost in our modern world. Our societies have exploded with wanton complexity, cloaking our actions in a veil of confusion. As we stumble about, it is important that we reoriented ourselves back to a saner version of morality. Without this, we so easily lose sight of what is truly important in our brief but tumultuous existence.

It’s hard to say what makes a person ‘good’. There are still many good people out there, and they cover a broad spectrum of attitudes and behaviors. Bad however isn’t too hard to define. Pretty much every bad person that ever lived, lived a life of self-obsession. They are, it always seems, the center of their own universe. They come in all shapes and sizes, but their selfishness, self-absorption and self-centeredness lump them together into a rather obvious pile.

Bad people are bad because they mostly choose themselves over others. That choice, although rooted in our instinct for self preservation, pits their actions against their presence in our societies. From selfishness comes a stunning variety of heartless, mean and often brutal acts. Actions that we fully understand are bad, even when we aren’t entirely clear on the underlying motives.

Bad people do the best for themselves, regardless of the consequences and they feel entitled to do these things because everything revolves around them.

Now it’s not that one can never ‘act in their own best interests’. Life doesn’t always allow us to be selfless, but rather it’s the degree in which one does this that matters. Sometimes you have to put yourself first, but not always and not without appreciating the consequences. We’re intelligent beings, so we can understand our impact on the world around us. If we choose to.

People don’t have to be bad, often they are because it’s just the easiest thing for them to do. Unfortunately we celebrate and often reward this type of selfishness, but regardless that doesn’t justify the behavior of these people. Nor does it provide an excuse for the rest of us to mirror their bad choices. Fundamentally, most people want to be good people so we should just give into our nature and try to raise ourselves out of the muck whenever possible. A good deed a day is a great start.