Wednesday, June 20, 2012



  [good]  Show IPA adjective, bet·ter, best,noun, interjection, adverb
morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.
satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher;good health.
of high quality; excellent.
right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here. His credentialsare good.
well-behaved: a good child.

A friend of mine posted this status at 10PM last night, "How do you define Good?" That late at night I was in no position to try to think of an answer to a question that complex. The definition above is more of a guideline for me to start. 

It makes me think of that question that teachers (or myself) always ask when we're studying the Enlightenment. Are we born good or evil? Does it make me a total nerd to go there? As humans, we do bad things all the time. That makes it hard to argue that we're inherently good. Babies easily discover that when they cry, they get attention. Eventually they will cry even when they don't need anything, so they can get the attention. You may say, "So what? Babies will be babies." The fact is, that's the beginning of deceit. Not that babies understand what that means, so one could still argue that we're born good. 

The definition of good can vary from individual to individual so much, it's a wonder the dictionary could come up with an objective sounding definition. A good person could be considered someone who doesn't break laws and follows social norms, but many people who break laws (I'm not saying they murder people or what not.) or break social norms are good people. I do not automatically think that women who get pregnant out of wedlock are bad women. I do not immediately assume that the guy who drives 75 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone is bad. Some people may define a good person by whether they go to church all the time and read their Bibles, however that's not part of my definition. I'm not gonna lie; it's a definite plus, but not a requirement to be a good person. Being a good doesn't equal perfect. 

I would consider myself to be a good person, but I certainly don't meet all the criteria for the definition of good provided in the dictionary. I don't meet the criteria for the definition of bad either. When I was in debate in college, you had to prove the opposing case would do more harm than good. That was all it took to overturn a case. If you were the side that was supposed to solve for the harm, the burden was put on you to prove how your solution was good. That was far more difficult. 

One could argue that neither good nor bad exists. There's a whole gray area along the spectrum between good and bad, but a person would be hard pressed to come up with someone who is all good or all bad. We  just can't come up with enough words for these in-betweens, so we tend to categorize them as one or the other. 

So what is good? Good is trying to do more good than harm, and recognizing the good in others who have done you harm. Realizing that good and bad are more complex than following laws and social conventions.  Realizing that reading your Bible may help you do good things (Which is great.), but it does not make you a good person by itself. I do my best to see the good in everybody, because the reality is we all do bad things sometimes. That's what makes us human. The struggle is to not allow yourself to be defined by what you've done wrong but rather by how you've tried to fix it. A day in which I fix one more item than I break is a good day for me. So how do you define good? What parameters do you use to help you determine what is good and what is not? 

As usual I was my usual rambling self, but let me know what you think good is below in the comment section. 

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