Good, for goodness' sake...
Awkward to say, ah, I seldom watch the news. This reluctance to live outside my bubble does make me feel a bit naive at dinner parties. But I worry. I worry about all of us. Being tapped into social media, chumming with pals, and listening to talk radio, I do catch wind of disheartening goings-on around the world. Clearly, ominous stories are told more aggressively, often remaining in a state of rising conflict, and seeming to have no happy ending. I find myself laboring to focus on the goodness that I know neighbors this ugliness. After a particularly harrowing story, I tow the sadness around like the titan Atlas, carrying the mythological weight of the heavens on his shoulders. To me, it seems so glaringly obvious why people should want to choose to be good.
I often think about the inspiring philosophers who preceded us – Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Pooh Bear – and how much time they devoted to understanding goodness and its relationship to happiness. Aside from the simplistic philosophies of a stuffed bear, philosophical theories can be complicated and ambiguous. But the commonality among these fellows is the self awareness of a person’s virtuous soul. That is, the virtues by which a person naturally lives their life. If a soul is at odds, inner turmoil may bring about bad behavior. For humanity to evolve, the primary source of goodness must originate within each of us because, fundamentally, we are designed with the personal independence to choose to be good. Philosophical Spoiler Alert: Goodness is the activity; happiness is the end result. So if we make good choices to live a good life, then we never really have to try to be happy. Goodness, for the sake of goodness itself and for no other motive, results in happiness.
As Plato suggests, I will live a just life for its own sake, rather than unjustly for mere profit. I will be mindful of the continued harmony in my soul among the virtues of wisdom, courage, and temperance to make good choices. With Aristotle in mind, I will pursue goodness for the sake of itself, rather than for some other reward. I will be aware of the variance between my rational soul and my irrational soul, and obey reason to always strive for intellectual and moral virtue to make good choices. Like Augustine, I will acknowledge that we are all born with free will. Although, in having the free will to choose to be good, I realize that others have the free will to choose to be bad. I will never misuse my gift of free will, and compromise my virtuous soul. Then, I will listen to Pooh Bear to be reminded: “There are so many things that can make you happy. Don’t focus too much on things that make you sad.” This genuine and unsophisticated philosophy helps me to never stop believing that there are more good people in the world than bad people. I will do my part and keep my soul aligned. Still, I will seek peace in the solitude of my bubble and cuddle my childhood stuffed bear. Oh, and I will probably continue to avoid watching the news.
© Copyright Paula Davis