Saturday, August 12, 2017

Meaning Of Being A Good Person

One of my lifelong quests has been to find out the meaning of what it is to be a good person.

What does a good person do? A good person leaves the world a better place than what he has found. He also is a boon to other people and to the world.

In economics and politics, this means maximizing creative potentials and minimizing destructive potentials. It means allowing people a better existence without destroying what you have not created and cannot recreate. It means using technologies that are brain-intensive and not resource-intensive and it also means maximizing opportunity and prosperity while minimizing damage.

In interpersonal interactions, this means doing what's right by other people. That can take any number of possible forms. Sometimes you need to encourage people or support people. Sometimes you need to teach people. Sometimes you need to correct people when they are doing something wrong. You need to learn how to do all of the above and have the correct judgment to know what you need to do in any given situation.

Socially, this means achieving covenants that are workable, happy and fair. It means looking at how the social universe can be the best place that it can be. It means supporting people's legitimate aspirations and providing a framework in which such can be met in a way that is also beneficial for others. It means figuring out how human relations can be arranged in an optimal manner that works for everyone involved.

In ethics, this means demanding of oneself a rightful behavior. It means making a commitment toward righteous conduct. It means caring about other people and seeking their best interests without participating in whatever errors they practice. It means seeing through any possible form of wrongfulness and instead seeking righteousness in all ways.

In intellect, this means having adequate knowledge of the world so that one can understand the consequences of his actions. It means informing yourself enough about the world to know what actions have what effects. And it means making a commitment toward actions whose effects are rightful and beneficial.

In feelings, this means maximizing feelings that are beneficial and minimizing ones that aren't. It means growing good feelings such as compassion and kindness and reducing the influence of feelings that are unrightful. It does not mean never being angry or being negative, but rather only being angry for rightful things and using negative hunches to see problems enough to solve them rather than to create problems. If negative feelings arise, the solution is to see whether or not they are legitimate. If they point to a real problem, the correct solution is to solve the problem. If all that they are doing is whining, then the correct response is to tell them to shut up.

In psychology, this means maximizing lasting happiness. I do not mean temporary happiness; I mean happiness that lasts. I mean doing things in the world that give people more to be genuinely happy about. I mean solving problems in such a way as not to create bigger problems. I mean using real thinking rather than positive thinking or negative thinking and facing the problems head-on enough to solve them. I mean doing away with wrongful theories and operating according to things that are actually and legitimately true.

In gender relations and other political matters, this means maximizing the beneficial actions on the part of each side while minimizing each side's negative potentials. In conflicts such as between business and labor or men and women, neither side is good and neither side is bad. Both are capable of both. The correct approach to such matters is what I call the positive middle path, in which the interests of both sides are taken into account, and mechanisms are put in place to maximize the beneficial action on the part of each side and minimize negative action on the part of each side. In a related situation, it is to strive for win-win scenarios whenever possible; while reserving the use of superior force against people who choose to be implacable enemies.

In intimate relationships, this means being committed to the partner's well-being. It means doing the right thing by the partner and treating the partner rightfully. It also means maintaining a loving, forgiving and generous frame of mind, so that a partner's misstep does not ruin the relationship.

In religion and spirituality, this means maintaining commitment to righteousness while also being loving. It means caring about other people and wanting their ultimate well-being without yourself partaking in sin. It also means doing as much as one can to maximize light and minimize darkness. It does not mean never being angry or negative. It means choosing both righteousness and love.

On matter of sacrifice, this means knowing what sacrifices are rightful and what aren't. You do not sacrifice yourself for the mafia. You do not sacrifice yourself for Catherine McKinnon or Ash Patil. You do sacrifice your own interests for greater whole when that is the rightful thing to do. You practice discernment and see what is lower quality and what is higher quality, and you use this criterion to decide which qualities should be legitimately sacrificed to which.

On matters of strength and power, this means practicing judgment, righteousness and self-control. Both strength and power are tools, and tools are about how they are wielded. Anyone who has such things needs to learn how to use them wisely. These things are tools and should be treated as tools. And none should be allowed to become a purpose in and of themselves.

There is more – much more. But it is these qualities that are most present in genuinely good people I've known. And I certainly hope that the influence of these people reaches as many people as possible, so that anyone who aspires toward things such as personal goodness knows what it means to be a good person and what is demanded of him to become one.


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