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What is a truly good person?

Wednesday 12/13/23

I believe that there's only way for a person to truly be a good person.

A lot of times, people conflate not being a terrible person, or not a bad person, with being a good person.

It doesn't work like that.

Let's say you're someone who goes through life and you don't really cause anyone any innocent person harm because of your intentions. You didn't plot against such people--things like that.

Let's say you did, more or less, what was asked of you when it was asked of you. You can be a reliable person that way.

That's good.

But it's not the same as being a good person.

Someone who is an actual good person needs no reminders. They can be asked, but they don't have to be asked.

Their first thought is always for other people. They ask themselves, "What can I do for that person over there?"

They are active this way. They are looking to help. To provide support. It's not only their first response to anything they see, but they are in essence brainstorming throughout their life: Is there something I can do? Would this be good for this person? Is there something I can say to them? What if I send them this? Offer them this?

How can I help?

A good person is living their life and thinking about the lives of others simultaneously; these pursuits are interconnected, even when that person is off on their own. They are trying as hard as they can to mentally enter into those lives. To imagine what they're like. How they feel. How someone else feels. Then they behave accordingly. They may be proactive accordingly.

A good person is an imaginative traveller this way. There is no out of sight, out of mind.

For the non-bad person there can be. Let's say that person is called and counted on. And they may be there. Because they're not a bad person.

But that is still very different from being a good person. A good person is always looking out for others and--this is crucial--looking to look out for others.

It's who they are. They look to see what others need or can use, before they look to themselves. That doesn't mean they neglect themselves. But they are wired to first determining, "What might that person need? What can I do?"

To be this way is to embody true goodness. To seek to be an active force and presence for good.

A good person is not common. Is it hard to be a good person? I don't think that once one is a good person, that it's hard. I think that's how that person is. It becomes second nature, and what becomes second nature becomes first nature--so long as we continue in that course, with the same standards and vigilance. Nay: with ever greater standards and vigilance.

But however they were born--that is, whatever fundamental goodness might have been in their nature--they had to work at developing that goodness. You don't just become that way by accident.

Becoming a truly good person may be hard.

It takes mental discipline. It takes personal standards. It takes honesty.

You cannot lie to yourself. You will have to face things about yourself that are not flattering. That can be very upsetting. Humbling. Painful. Shameful. You will have to accept them.

Acceptance is one of the greatest gifts of human life. But it is not a gift that is easy to receive.

Having accepted them, you'll have to work to do things about them. It's a process of commitment.

You need to know the world for what it is, people for what they, unfortunately, often are, and you still need to be someone infused with love who wants to help others first and above all.

And if you don't, and you aren't, you're also not yourself, as you've come to be, as a good person.

I believe we should all try to be truly good people. We should try our very hardest. And we will need to try very hard. Something else may be fine--whatever that means--but it's not enough.

When there is more that we should be, we should do our honest best to be it. All the more so when it helps people.

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