Stop Trying to be a Good Person!
We often mentally divide our world into “good people” and “bad people.” We want to be good people. We fear bad people. We try to raise children that turn into good human beings.
We struggle with self-esteem, worried that those around us will discover that, underneath our attempts at goodness, a bad person lurks.
When our kids are small, we teach them good behavior, but “being good” and “good behavior” are not the same thing as being a good person.
The idea that people, rather than behaviors, can be good or bad, is a harmful myth that is long overdue for busting.
What makes a person good, or bad, in our opinions? It’s pretty subjective, and entirely related to culture and context.
You can’t be good or bad at being human. You simply are human, capable of amazing courage, creativity, kindness, generosity, greed, callousness and cruelty.
There will always be people we like, and people we don’t like. There will always be people who do things we like, and people who do things we don’t like.
There are hurt people, ignorant people, and fearful people. We call these “bad people.” Sometimes they do things we don’t like. Sometimes they do things that hurt others.
There are healed people, thinking people, and charitable people. We call these “good people”. These people do things we like, and try to help people.
We can be good at the things we do. We can do good things for the world. We can handle situations badly. We can do things that have bad consequences. We can have good intentions that result in bad outcomes. None of that is the same as being a good person, or a bad person.
Instead of striving to be good, and worrying that we are bad, let’s strive to be authentic. Let’s work to release the things that hurt us. Let’s cultivate joy. Let’s raise our children to be curious, appreciative and responsible.
Rather than fearing the people that we believe to be bad, or fearing that we, ourselves, are bad, let’s recognize that fear itself is the source of most of the badness in the world.
We are all good humans, because to be good at being human, you simply have to be born.
Perhaps we would all do better at living on the planet if we accepted the flawed beauty of our humanity as the miracle that it is. Perhaps if we stop trying to be “good” and instead focus on being “healed” we’ll have fewer hurt people in the world.
“Good” and “bad” are subjective judgments that don’t mean much of anything, especially in describing people. When we strive to be good, we are striving for a meaningless and unattainable goal. When we strive for healing and growth, when we work to be authentic, to be kind, to be strong and to be creative, we become capable of doing great things. We succeed, and we become the people that help the world evolve.