Have you ever thought about what you perceive as good? I’m not talking about the things that you like, I’m talking about how you evaluate things within your own mind in comparison with other things. In order to do this, there must be some sort of mental scale – some way to say to yourself, ‘this is good’ or ‘this is bad.’ And then generally, because we like to make sense of things, we have some sort of reason to back up why we think something is good or bad, or more likely somewhere in between.
“Good,” according to the dictionary, means “satisfactory in terms of quality, quantity, or degree.” In the debate around good vs. evil, it’s easy to decipher one from the other. Evil is that which brings about harm or dissatisfaction, while good is that which is pleasing or sufficient. There are philosophical debates around the topic asking questions such as “what does it mean/take to be a good person?” Maybe there’s an answer that you’re okay with here, but for the most part it’s something that must be answered for one’s self.
There are many who will point out that we should be good rather than evil, and that good is easy to differentiate from bad – sure, it’s simple because somewhere along the way we’ve crafted a sort of mental model that allows us to do so on an individual level. But it’s subjective, and biased, and potentially quite different in judgement from how others around us might see things. What does a good person even look like? Not to mention, we are still left with the lingering question of “what is good?”
Is good a spiritual thing?
Is the basis of what is good dependent on our experience with materialism?
Is good something tangible or understood?
If we look at an object and ask “is it good?” we judge it on a multitude of qualities. Think, for example, about a food that you like. Maybe this is a Michelin-star plate that you think is worthy of a million praises. To you, it’s at the very least good. However, another man walks into that same restaurant at the same time, orders the same plate prepared by the same chef and thinks that it is not good. By these standards, how can the very same thing be both good and not good?
Is there such thing as ‘good?’ Maybe we can’t truly define ‘good’ well enough to apply it to a universally agreed upon mindset. We can have our own version of good that exists solely within ourselves within our own unique reasoning. Good is something that brings us pleasure, that leaves us feeling at peace, and that we generally like enough to give it our stamp of approval.
So one more question: What does it mean to be good?
I can’t answer this for you. I know this complicates things as it’s difficult to say matter of factly what it means to be good when we can’t even completely determine what good is in the first place. I can’t answer this for you because my meaning of good is from my own perspective using the guidelines that I have shaped throughout my own lifetime based upon my own views and experiences. But I can tell you what it means, to me, to be good. To be good, from my perspective, means that you provide a sense of acceptance wherever you go. It means that you do not judge others based upon those things which they cannot control or the things which they like. It means that rather than asking “why do I have to?” you ask “how can I help?”
I don’t know what it means to be good through your eyes. I do know that regardless of what it means to you, however you decide what it means to be good, this world can always use more good people.