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Saturday Musings - What Does it Mean to do Good?

Saturday Musings - What Does it Mean to do Good?

So many of us in the western world believe that if we do “good” then things will be all right now and hopefully in the afterlife. I’ve been contemplating this concept of doing good and to be quite honest with you I’m a little confused.

The problem I’m having is that “good” is a subjective term and something that is good for one person may not be for another. Each one of us views the world from our own perspective and cultural background and this taints our perception of what is good.

An extreme example of this is ISIS. They believe they are doing good by blowing up archaeological sites, beheading infidels and bringing their own unique brand of Sharia law to the masses. It’s clear that many people agree with their position and are even willing to put their lives on the line….but does this make ISIS good?

Maybe if you reach a critical mass of individuals that believe as you do, then you do regard what you’re doing good? If that was the case, then Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong would be regarded as saints as they had millions of people following them while they slaughtered millions themselves. I’ve concluded that doing “good” isn’t at all about populist opinion but something else entirely.

Over the last few months I’ve been watching the presidential election unfold in a most astounding manner. Each candidate firmly believes they are the one that will do the most “good” for their country…..this is despite the fact they seem to be trying to prove the other candidate is evil. So maybe a person can be defined as being good by doing less evil? Now we have the conundrum of defining what is evil…..so essentially the flip side of the coin for “what is good”.

Then we have terms such as; “you’re a goody two-shoes” and you’re just “holier than thou” as vain attempts by one individual to try and redefine a person’s personal view of what is good through ridicule. There is essentially a clash of values that has denigrated the conversation to low levels of disrespect….just like in the presidential debates.

There is a liberal way of thinking that has encroached into society that says, “I don’t care what you do as long as it doesn’t impact me.”

It’s an isolationist view of society that builds gated communities, high walls around houses and neighbours who are strangers. At its heart, people who subscribe to this world view have relinquished their right to define what is good and bad until it directly impacts them. Society can be in complete anarchy as long as their walls are high enough and if they are encroached these people will typically define good at the end of a gun.

The problem I see with people defining their own view of “goodness” is that it will vary from one individual to another. Some people will believe its fine to prop up the stats of a domain name with purchased traffic prior to selling it while others believe it’s fraud. Who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation? This forced me to look to the law for some sort of definition of proper behaviour and hopefully “goodness”.

Sadly, the law spends a lot of time defining bad behaviour but not good….in fact, it is largely silent on what’s good. If a person robs a bank, then that is regarded as bad but if you help an elderly person across the road you don’t get some sort of reward from the government.

There is some hope in the law. The mere fact that the law is defining what is bad would suggest that it has some basis in what is good….even if it is silent. Where did the law get its views of right and wrong? This is where I’m forced to acknowledge the fact that the western law (and many laws around the world) largely have their roots in a faith or faiths. In the case of the west, it’s the Judaeo Christian world view.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, one of the fundamental structures of our society has its roots in faith……the reason for this is because it was through faith that our forefathers defined “good”. This means that each day we are all acknowledging there is an external authority that defines good and has defined goodness for each an everyone of us…..WOW, now my heads spinning!

I’m also faced with the fact that most of us seem to be able ascertain what is good through our conscience. Forgetting the outliers in the statistical distribution (eg. ISIS etc.) we seem to know what is good when we see it. But how did this happen and where did our conscience come from? Did it, like our laws, come from a divine authority? I will leave that for you to dig into in your own times of contemplation.

What the basis in the law and our conscience have in common is a bedrock of perceived “goodness” that is not defined by individuals who have differing world views. Goodness is locked down by a spiritual perspective on a common definition of good. This is a great comfort as it means when I’m doing some business with a person there is a clear way we should conduct ourselves. In fact, in business there is a term, “bad faith”. This is when a person is not behaving in a “good” manner to increase their own personal advantage.

I know for certain that I will be thinking a lot more on the topic of “What does it mean to do good?” I hope you also feel challenged in reading this article on your own personal views.

Have a great weekend!

 

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Comments 4

 
Rawgi on Monday, 31 October 2016 07:58
What does it mean to do good?

I agree it is up to the individual to determine what they feel is doing good. Myself I was raised Catholic and went to Parochial school to 8th grade, and was an alterboy. So I was influenced by some of my environment growing up. Now when I reached high school and college, this changed as I began seeing the world and Catholics in a different light. I would consider myself Christian , but have taken the opportunity to study other religions as well. Many are Christian based and follow some of the same guidelines. Many are also waaay out there, being slain in the spirit , talking in tongues, and using snakes, believing in gold plates, etc. And of course being promised 70 virgins, ( no guarantee they are female ), lol, couldn't resist that one, killing infidels on public TV, ( real brave like Chicke#@!!++), and running into a crowd with bombs on you. like you said it is open for interpretation depending on how you have been influenced either by upbringing or other sources. I would hope I know what is right and wrong by my conscience telling me if I am being bad or good, or just doing whatever it takes to get by and not get arrested . This subject could be talked about for days and more. I will just trust you, Michael, to be a good honest person with a good heart as that has been my experience knowing you, and hopefully you have gathered the same from me. I know we don't do any commerce together, but I have a gut feeling about this and it usually serves me well. if one was to follow your musings , they would see the nice , smart and very talented individual i see. It is hard to miss in what you write about your life and how you feel about family and job/work. From what I have seen, you love and respect your wife, care about and love your children, are aggressive and well informed about your business and still take time to have fun and help others with your Saturday Musings . I am only telling how it looks to me, from this side. In a world that seems to have less and less good people you can trust and confide in, when I do find a good person, it is refreshing and helps restore my faith that all is not coming to end, at least not right away I hope. And to think I met you on a game that has just about ended its lifespan. I became a gamer very late in life like in my 50s, so now at 63 life is going very fast and I just retired. I never thought I would be playing so many games. And the books are great , I have to catch up on my reading.

My last boss, well property manager , has a talent for games and books. he has made 2 games now and has just got his second book on Amazon. he has been a very good friend and defended me many times. it is a long story of many bad things that were rained on me and he knew what was really happening. Anyway His books are very good and if you get the chance , his name is Phil Meier and dumb me I can't think of the book titles but both are on Amazon and i have been reading them through Kindle on my Iphone. Well keep up the writing, i have been telling people about you and hoping they check out your stuff.

As always thank you for the person you are, like Phil I was supposed to meet you at this time in my life.

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I agree it is up to the individual to determine what they feel is doing good. Myself I was raised Catholic and went to Parochial school to 8th grade, and was an alterboy. So I was influenced by some of my environment growing up. Now when I reached high school and college, this changed as I began seeing the world and Catholics in a different light. I would consider myself Christian , but have taken the opportunity to study other religions as well. Many are Christian based and follow some of the same guidelines. Many are also waaay out there, being slain in the spirit , talking in tongues, and using snakes, believing in gold plates, etc. And of course being promised 70 virgins, ( no guarantee they are female ), lol, couldn't resist that one, killing infidels on public TV, ( real brave like Chicke#@!!++), and running into a crowd with bombs on you. like you said it is open for interpretation depending on how you have been influenced either by upbringing or other sources. I would hope I know what is right and wrong by my conscience telling me if I am being bad or good, or just doing whatever it takes to get by and not get arrested . This subject could be talked about for days and more. I will just trust you, Michael, to be a good honest person with a good heart as that has been my experience knowing you, and hopefully you have gathered the same from me. I know we don't do any commerce together, but I have a gut feeling about this and it usually serves me well. if one was to follow your musings , they would see the nice , smart and very talented individual i see. It is hard to miss in what you write about your life and how you feel about family and job/work. From what I have seen, you love and respect your wife, care about and love your children, are aggressive and well informed about your business and still take time to have fun and help others with your Saturday Musings . I am only telling how it looks to me, from this side. In a world that seems to have less and less good people you can trust and confide in, when I do find a good person, it is refreshing and helps restore my faith that all is not coming to end, at least not right away I hope. And to think I met you on a game that has just about ended its lifespan. I became a gamer very late in life like in my 50s, so now at 63 life is going very fast and I just retired. I never thought I would be playing so many games. And the books are great , I have to catch up on my reading. My last boss, well property manager , has a talent for games and books. he has made 2 games now and has just got his second book on Amazon. he has been a very good friend and defended me many times. it is a long story of many bad things that were rained on me and he knew what was really happening. Anyway His books are very good and if you get the chance , his name is Phil Meier and dumb me I can't think of the book titles but both are on Amazon and i have been reading them through Kindle on my Iphone. Well keep up the writing, i have been telling people about you and hoping they check out your stuff. As always thank you for the person you are, like Phil I was supposed to meet you at this time in my life.
mgilmour on Wednesday, 16 November 2016 02:58

WOW! Thank you for your amazing comment....and yes, I feel the same about you. We seem to be both decent people who are making a living and enjoying life. BTW - I am 50% through book two now.....I just wish I had more time.

0
WOW! Thank you for your amazing comment....and yes, I feel the same about you. We seem to be both decent people who are making a living and enjoying life. BTW - I am 50% through book two now.....I just wish I had more time.
Rawgi on Thursday, 03 November 2016 07:51
Ranting

I truly hope I don't sound like a nutcase they way I birdwalk and rant sometimes. I do mean well and sometimes get a bit involved telling how I see things. I have always considered my self normal, depending on how you define Normal. Its not like Silence, or I kiill you, just kidding, lol.

0
I truly hope I don't sound like a nutcase they way I birdwalk and rant sometimes. I do mean well and sometimes get a bit involved telling how I see things. I have always considered my self normal, depending on how you define Normal. Its not like Silence, or I kiill you, just kidding, lol.
mgilmour on Wednesday, 16 November 2016 02:59

I regard it as a privilege reading what you shared.

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I regard it as a privilege reading what you shared.