How often have you heard people telling you (especially when you are an adolescent) that it doesn’t matter whether you are extremely successful/rich/popular in life, being a good person at heart, holds a higher value. Since the start of the modern era where all of us follow religion, codes and principles just to become what the society calls, ‘a Good person’. We were fed the regular stuff, the regular teaching, the regular fables, the regular morals, the regular Panchatantra tales where they used English/Hindi speaking animals as a metaphor to humans and the consequences of their actions mirroring the one we live in. All stories and teachings I’ve ever heard since childhood were about good conquering over evil. The victory of the righteous. But I do not stand in favour of these archaic policies that do not exist in the modern society.
The first notion that bugs me is what or who actually is good. Would a person who never lies be considered good or someone who lied to save a friend? How do we so conveniently draw the line between good and evil? Do we even have the authority to decide our own good and evil being members of the naive human race. Even though these questions cannot be answered directly and if we can actually draw this line of good and evil for our lives, does everyone have the same criteria? It is far too obvious that good for one might be evil for another and that has given rises to many conflicts over the course of history.
A ruler who wants to unite people in a united kingdom has to conquer lands and people, is he wrong? Was any ruler over history wrong in his conscience? The point being, good and evil can be considered as arbitrary constants where we add or subtract actions for our existence. I am a good son, probably, if I do what my parents think is good for me, that doesn’t mean I’m a good person but that doesn’t deny it either.
We may consider that we could achieve objective moral truths if we could contextualize moral statements against a universally worthy principle. If I said for example that my defining principle of morality would be to preserve human life at all costs, making a statement like ‘murder is wrong’ becomes true within the context of my define principle that human life must be preserved.
We are kind of left with the same problem of how can we choose what is a universally worthy principle? Furthermore we could ask how can something be true (only) in the context of one’s aim?
Of course, you think that expressionism is wrong and we can have objective moral truths anyway. If so there’s still a few things to consider. Is a ‘good’ person someone who does good things or has good intentions? I won’t like to think I’m a good person, I try to help other people whenever I can, but I have done greater wrongs.
Would it be better to be someone who does not really do anything wrong, but cares very little about helping others?
How many ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things must we do before we could be considered to be good or bad people?
Are all people as immoral as each other, with ‘good people’ just being persons who are more afraid of the consequences of being ‘bad’?
Someone who doesn’t help a friend during an exam is a truthful and honest person but for the friend he is a selfish asshole. Good things and actions, are these even existent?
What the Geeta or the Bible or the Quran tells us may or may not be good. What I believe is when a person does things and acts in a way which he enjoys a happy, satisfying, and fulfilling life within his ability, and does not prevent others from living happy, satisfying, and fulfilling lives within their ability, but also within reason, then, he is a good person. He still may be bad for many but inside he will be righteous, to his life and his code, which is good enough.
But this is just a matter of opinion, what is good or bad, that is for you to decide.