There’s one easy way to find out if a person is a good person, including ourselves. All you need to do is ask one simple question:
‘Do you think you are a good person?’
To which there is only one real answer when boiled down:
People who are genuinely good are people who know about:
And because they know about these things, they can’t say they are good people with a feeling of faultlessness or purity inside.
Being ‘good’ is in direct relation with being bad, or at least the potentiality of being so. A good person is all too aware of how they can be:
They know that sometimes they just aren’t there for others in the best way possible.
Someone that says they are good are judging themselves above suspicion. That is to say, they are the type to be both judge and jury, but even more so, to have a kingly air of feeling above the law.
A person that is sincerely good is just too aware of how they might really be a monster. And being so aware of their own shortcomings and tendencies to be bad, they can’t rightfully call anyone else bad. It is a Christian guilty conscience resulting in humility for some and a yin-yang acceptance for others.
On the other side of this coin, there are people that don’t lose any sleep asking themselves, ‘Am I a good person?’
In my second novel, the protagonist goes home in an attempt to reconnect with his estranged family, in particular, his brother. Whereas the protagonist is in constant doubt about himself, his brother is the complete opposite. He is, indeed, a proven and successful man with a respectable career and zealous devotion to God.
Despite his seemingly saintly life though, he is incapable of seeing any bad or wrong within himself. It is a blinding self-righteousness that results in him turning everyone around him into monsters. He expects purity in all those he knows and is harshly critical at those when they don’t meet his standards. This shows in his need for a virgin-bride and kicking his brother out into the street over a minor disagreement.
These types of self-righteous people are often the most difficult and dangerous people on the planet. They only see evil outside of themselves.
It is always others who are to blame.
It is always others who are wicked.
It is always others who made bad decisions and mistakes.
And in the case of the brother in the novel, it is always the protagonist who is the sinful one.
It is the role of those that think they are good to purge the evils of others in the fire of their self-righteousness.
It’s almost funny, and definitely absurd, that the worst atrocities in human history were performed by those with an easy conscience. People who felt that God was on their side and that justice is more important than kindness.
These people feel justified to turn in their fellow neighbors to secret police or watch them be burned at a stake. They will dance around their enflamed and screaming bodies with vigor as they believe they are doing the ‘right’ thing. The right thing in the eyes of God or Truth - yes, with a capital ‘T’.
What we have to understand is that these people don’t see the evil in what they do. They feel they are a warrior of justice.
We don’t generally like to sit and think of ourselves in a negative spotlight. It can be painful to realize how unfair we may have been to others, or how we may have had an unfair advantage over others. We maybe didn’t do these things with malicious intent, but it is still on us to be aware if for no other reason than to keep ourselves in check. It is on us to strive to be compassionate and considerate, to be humble.
We can see in history that whenever a great tragedy has occurred it was often by those who felt they had a monopoly on justice. This feeling of justice in the past usually came from a belief in god. Today it is more widespread with those that feel to be an expert in a given field, be it economics or natural sciences, that they know the true path to a better future.
When this feeling of truth gets capitalized, they don’t mind how much they destroy, or who they hurt, in their morally-justified war.
It may not be as exciting, but the calmest parts of history are those when we as a majority maintain a sense of doubt and apologize when we realize we may not have been entirely fair. Most importantly, when we remember that we ourselves are, at least a little, flawed.
A person that is kind in his or her words is so because they know they may not always be right or good. They can forgive because they are aware of the forgiveness they need themselves.