If you want to be a good person, and if that’s what you strive for every single day, I do believe that the most necessary ingredient to achieve this … is doubt. Question yourself. Question what you believe, question what you do. Question everything. Question whether or not you are a good person. You’ll never know if you’ve achieved your goal, but you ought to try anyway. Unfortunately, what qualifies as ‘good’ is subjective. You can’t crunch numbers together that equal the equation ‘good.’ Even if there was an objective definition, and thus lifestyle, that makes someone undeniably ‘good,’ I believe it would still be impossible to completely achieve.
In my opinion, being a good person is not a static state of being. You can never ‘become good’ and then you’re set for the rest of your life no matter what you do next. No, it is a daily goal. I think what truly makes someone a good person, or at least the closest one can possibly get to it, is making this their goal every single day, believing they always have more work to do, and consciously putting effort into the progress they need to make for themselves.
So, is it even worth trying to be good? Is the goal essentially pointless if you can never reach it? Well, again, I think that’s subjective – it’s in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I’ve always believed it is worth it. But I can’t say that for absolute fact.
Personally, I not only try to be a good person every single day, but I also try (or, mostly just want) everyone else to also be the best they can be. I question myself, and I question others. I am honest with myself, and I am honest with others. Continuing in the trend of honesty, I must admit to myself (and my audience) that this is a sort of ‘religion’ to me. It always has been, even when I was actually religious (a Christian).
I don’t know why I take the subject of morality so seriously. Even as a Christian, things I read in the Bible that God himself did, I often questioned and doubted the morality behind. Perhaps this is just the way my brain is wired, and it’s that simple. But, I think it goes deeper than that.
I want the world to be a perfect place, for everyone.
Yes, this is exactly what most people want for the world, too. I know. But, that is my motivation every single day. I’m a father now, and now my greatest motivation is keeping her alive, happy, and well. My desire for the world to be better than it is, is now greater. My daughter’s in this world now, which means things have to improve. That’s how I see it anyway.
What drove me to feel this way even long before my daughter was conceived? Well, the reason isn’t very flattering, but here goes…
I’ve always been a highly emotional person. I’ve always cared about people to a, possibly, excessive degree.
Look at any picture (and I do mean any picture) of me as a child, from infancy to age 10, and you’ll see my face bright with a wide smile. Even when I didn’t know my picture was being taken, I nearly always had a smile on my face. Needless to say, I was a happy child. I saw the world as a wonderful place, full of beauty, harmony, and joy. As a child, even on cloudy days, or days when my siblings and foster-siblings weren’t getting along, I was still rather high on life. That was my baseline mood, daily.
Every Christmas, in my first foster home, I went around the house with sheets of paper, wrapping random objects from every room (including bedrooms) to give to everyone for the holiday. I wrapped office supplies, dishes, and movies, mostly. My sister had to tell me outright that I can’t give away things that don’t belong to me.
When I was around 4 or 5, I was walking downstairs, and I saw my foster mom, Vicky, holding a large number of soda cans in her arms right outside the front door. I didn’t hear her call for anyone. I didn’t even know she was there until I walked downstairs. I saw her standing there in the cold, holding all these cans for some reason, and I rushed to the door and opened it for her. She simply thanked me and brought the cans into the kitchen. I followed her to the kitchen as she grabbed the phone and started talking to someone. I just stood there, in the kitchen, wanting to cry, because I felt so bad for her, that she had to stand outside for who-knows-how-long with nobody to help her. Vicky didn’t notice I was even standing there.
That wasn’t an accident. That wasn’t just from my undeveloped brain giving me too many emotions because that’s just what 4-to-5-year-olds are like. This is who I have always been. As a teenager, I had a friend named Kelly. One day at church, she and I were talking about my friend (at the time) named Amy and how concerned I was for her. Amy was not my girlfriend, ever. She was just one of my several female friends. But, at one point in the conversation, Kelly said, “Wow, you care about your friends more than most guys care about their girlfriends.” I’m still not sure if she meant that as a bad thing or not.
And it’s also no accident that most of my friends, growing up, were girls. A few, fortunately minor, gay rumors were started because of this. The reason my friends were primarily girls is because they were a lot more like me than boys. They were emotional. They were more interested in talking about social matters than sports. They were more interested in simply spending time with each other than “hanging out and doing something crazy!” like what boys did. I had guy friends, of course, but not as many.
My main issue growing up was being too emotional. It hurt me when entire weeks passed and I didn’t get a single phone call from friends. (This was before cell phones could do everything, or were everywhere.) Whether it was Amy, or Catherine, or Katie, or Kelly, or my guy friends like Kyle, or Mitch… I needed attention, to put it bluntly. Mitch eventually became my best friend, and still is to this day, and I’m sure he remembers that time period quite well. Yep, I sometimes got on his case about not calling me as much as he called Katie (his eventual-girlfriend). Yes, that really happened.
I also gave others flack whenever they did anything against someone else. Anything that seemed wrong to me. I got angry whenever I heard someone cheated in a relationship, or gossiped about something completely untrue, or you-name-it. I heard that Amy was sleeping with her boyfriend Chris, and that made me cry … for some reason. I thought it was sinful (remember I was a Christian), and I also feared she’d get pregnant or an STD.
Most people might tell you that I’ve changed drastically from who I was as a child/teenager. I would disagree. I don’t need attention anymore, but that’s the only thing that’s truly changed. Now, I actually prefer it when people leave me alone. I’m still as emotional as I’ve always been, just more adept at containing it. I’m still emotionally invested in all the people around me, immensely. I still want everyone to treat each other well, I still want the future of mankind to be bright.
I wasn’t always honest. I’ve always believed in telling the truth (it’s what all kids are taught, after all), but it never really bothered me to fib and white lie once in a while … until I was about 16.
At church youth group one night, I don’t remember who was giving the sermon (“message”) that night, or what it was about, but I do remember one specific thing they said. They said, “I don’t live with secrets. I love the fact that when I walk out of the house in the morning, I know I have nothing to hide.”
I’ll never forget those words. Every day, for what was probably weeks, I thought about those words. At the time, I was about 16, and I believed lying and having secrets were sinful, but I still did both on occasion when it suited me. But after weeks of obsessing over the thought of “Having no secrets,” it eventually just became part of me. I wanted to live life without secrets.
Becoming the overly-honest man I am today was just a byproduct of that. You can’t live a secret-free life without being extremely honest. So, I stopped hiding my thoughts in nearly any given situation. I stopped lying; even white lies. I even started ‘translating’ the lies of others if I felt they were too cowardly to be honest. All of this started getting me in trouble with nearly everyone in my life. And then, I started questioning why the hell anybody would get in trouble for being honest?
Seriously. We teach our kids to be honest, but when everybody grows up, society overwhelmingly pressures us to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Well then why teach kids to tell the truth? I wondered that back then, and I still wonder that now. If everybody was more honest with each other, to each other’s faces, society would be a lot better off.
Anyway… After incidentally developing a reputation for being blunt, my epiphany was complete. I went from striving to live without secrets, to becoming brutally honest all the time, to finally realizing something I should have already known by that age. I realized that there is a little evil that exists in everyone, and that evil is derived from selfishness. In essence, evil is the incarnation of selfishness.
People can’t stand honesty because the truth can interfere with their selfish desires. Then, and only then, is honesty a problem. In my opinion, and it’s an opinion I hold strongly, if anyone is offended by an honest statement, the reason is: Something about them is being exposed that they don’t want exposed.
Now, over 10 years later, I don’t see much of a difference between all these things – between honesty, striving to be better every day, and trying to make the world a better place. Honest people can’t be selfish. (I say that with an asterisk.) Honesty itself cannot be evil. Honesty is merely the act of saying what is true. Even if one’s honesty isn’t true, at least they are giving their best attempt at being truthful. Honesty is just words, but they are the healthiest words any person can speak.
And yet, honesty will get you into the most trouble in life. It’s easy to figure out why. Few people are actually concerned with the truth. What most people want is … well … what they want. Most people you will encounter in life just want you to sacrifice your will on the altar of their will.
You, or anyone, may see me as a dark, suspicious, and mean person. But in my opinion, anyone who cares about the truth to the degree I do, who cares about the world as much as I do, wouldn’t see me that way at all. Maybe that’s just my flawed opinion. Maybe I can only understand my own point of view (very likely). But, I ask those people who see me that way… Given these facts, from my undying desire to see the world become a better place, to having a religious devotion to the truth … how else would I have turned out?
Look at this blog. And I don’t just mean this particular post, I mean the entire blog. Look at what I write about. See for yourself the things I think about on a daily basis. And how many people are subscribed to this blog? 175, at most? That’s nowhere near the literally-millions of subscribers people have on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and you-name-it. Hell, I haven’t even cracked 200 followers. Basically, nobody reads what I write. Yet, I still write it all. I write everything; all my thoughts. I still express my thoughts regularly, because I think about the world, constantly. Because my desire to see the world a better place is constant. That’s who I am. Trying to figure it out, and being emotionally invested in how things turn out.
Unfortunately, of course, being emotionally invested in the world around me has its downsides. I’m wounded. I was inevitably going to be wounded from the start. Wounded and increasingly frustrated, both; especially toward adults older than me. I’m wounded by every bad thing I hear, and especially the things I experience firsthand. The older I get, the more I learn about how selfish and cruel people can be (and that’s phrasing it in a G-rated way). If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know full-well the things I’ve experienced. By no means do I believe I’ve had the worst life ever. Not by a long shot. Still though, just because it’s worse somewhere else, doesn’t mean nothing affected me. Every day, I only hope that the worst things I hear about don’t happen to me, or to my child, or to anyone I know and care deeply about. I hope those things never happen to anyone, anywhere.
Life is short. I genuinely want everyone to live their one life to the fullest, safely, wholly, and morally. I can’t control others, nor would I if it were somehow possible, but I can hope they want the same.