Being a Good Person

Are you a good person?

This video from School for Life says that there is one simple test to find out if you are or not: (stop reading if you consider learning the content of a 4-minute infotainment video a spoiler) ask yourself if you are a good person. Only good people recognize their flaws and potential for evil and say, "no."

Of course, while watching this I had a crisis of conscience. Because in the space between the video posing the question of being a good person and letting us know that the right answer is no, I thought, "well, I'm not perfect, but on the balance, yeah I would say that I am a pretty good person."

So then am I really a bad person? According to this video, I guess so. Or perhaps just "on the balance." Start the crisis.

But! Then justification strikes: they say no one can be a good person "and at the same time think that they're blameless and pure inside."

Well, I certainly don't think I'm blameless and pure inside. I just don't think that being a good person required someone to be perfect. That's also why I had a waffly "on the balance" answer.

So then with that I swing back a little bit from my crisis. Maybe I'm okay.

Then! Another swing!

They describe how everyone who has ever performed an atrocity thought they were doing the right thing. That people never set out to do evil but instead believe they are flawlessly serving truth or righteousness or purity in some way.

The implication is clear: the feeling of absolutely doing the right thing is an indicator of being wrong. It's the moral version of the Dunning-Kruger effect.


I have felt, at times, that while I may not be blameless as an individual, I was unflinchingly on the side of good. Granted, I have never used that to justify hurting someone else, but when I (for example) shot down a random dude on the street telling me COVID isn't real, I did so with the full assurance that I was right and he was wrong. Not even because of the fact of COVID's existence, but because I am acting based on principles of science, reason, adaptability, and care for my fellow humans which I think are the right principles to act on.

So am I a bad person for that belief?

What do you think? What makes a good person? Based on all of this, are YOU a good person?

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

No comments:

Post a Comment