Encouraging Thought: Goodness may seem Problematic but It's there All the Time

Warren Kinston 21. July 2012 14:30

Most people are good (virtuous) most of the time.  The world would not work if they were not. That's an encouraging thought.encouraging thought

Life continues daily with each and every one of us producing goodness in small or large actions.  The good is expressed in our words, appears through the realization of our intentions, and shows up everywhere in fleeting non-verbal communications.

If we open our eyes to see the good as we walk down the street, we will see it.  The question may be asked as to why we do not routinely bother to look and remind ourselves that life is good and people are good.

The focus of the media is often on a deed that is wrong or evil.  That is partly so we can use the story to project our own human potentials and feel purer.  But these stories confirm that a norm, or at least a normal expectation, of goodness is being transgressed.  Descriptions of violations shock us even if we are half-aware of them.  Pictures are intolerable.

Relatively few people aspire to be bad.  Many of us, however, do have problems that emerge from practical difficulties, lack of knowledge, social pressures, local politics and so on.  When the excuses come from the power-driven narcissists in leadership positions, then we may doubt their genuineness.  Leaders of this sort spread a baneful influence designed to bring out the worst in people. 

That there is a battle within each of us between good and evil is not to be denied: it powers our imagination and is a staple of novels and films.  And we root for the hero, whose character is essentially good, even if with flaws.  The ending satisfies when he or she triumphs and puts their life, and by extension the world, in order.  Only when society's mood is bleak do we find cynical anti-heroes and depressing outcomes. 

I find the notion that goodness or virtue is rare inherently disturbing, because it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  There are people who have been brutalized and become hardened and callous. Many may struggle to think and see clearly when temptations arise.  However, such difficult people represent a challenge, not a confirmation. 

The first and most difficult challenge for each of us is to be honest with ourselves.  If we are, then we are likely to turn away from self-condemnation and demands for moral perfection.  We will certainly recognize our egocentric urges and our vulnerability to certain temptations, but we will also notice a general preference for what humanity has deemed «good» through the ages.  By «good», I mean: love, justice, freedom, kindness, understanding, strength, flexibility, humour, peace…   Add it all together and enlightened self-interest is an achievable goal.  The THEE frameworks being developed in Your Better Self describe how, with a little trust and determination, this can be achieved. 

Inner conflict over egocentric urges may be lessened for those who confine themselves to practicalities and abjure psychological reflection.  However, the enlightenment that appears to be emerging in the 21st Century will bring pressure on all to recognize the rewards of mutual understanding and mindfulness.  If you experience yourself as behaving as you should, then you will wish others should do likewise.  That can quickly lead to a self-reinforcing encouraging cycle and, despite bumps along the way and even massive social unrest, I trust that it will.



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Warren Kinston is the creator of the THEE-Online website as an open forum for the further discovery and development of THEE. He writes this blog as an escape valve for the excitement and frustrations of the work. More info here.

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