Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Grape #26: What does being a good person REALLY mean?
Today's reflection is a tricky one for me, because anytime I presume to tell others what is moral and what is not, there are some out there who gleefully wag their morality-loving fingers right back at me in response. So right from the start, let me be clear: I'm not perfect. I do things I shouldn't. I say things I shouldn't. I react and act in ways I should not. For all my angelic tendencies, and I do have some, I've still got a big stack of non-angelic tendencies. So if you know me well, dear reader, please know the words I share below are the deepest truths from my heart and soul. They are not claims to my own fame, but rather moral absolutes I preach to myself as much as to you.
What does being a good person mean?
It means letting people in on the parkway, and asking for a place in as well. It means holding the door open for people when they're closing in fast, and apologizing when you forget or neglect to do so. It means not gossiping about others incessantly, harping on the worst characteristics of a person, or whatever perceived weaknesses you believe they have.
But these are just some of the first steps to being a good person. These are easy.
What does being a good person really mean?
It means standing up to bullies, who too often think they are not bullies simply because they refrain from violence. Bullies, more often than not, bully with their mouths.
It means calling out a wrong, no matter who said or did it. It could be your spouse or best friend, or even the leader of your political party of choice. A wrong is a wrong is a wrong.
But even these are just directions we walk once we're healthy enough to understand basic right from basic wrong. Before all this, we need to choose to be a certain type of person. We need to choose to live this one life like the angels we already are.
So what does being a good person REALLY mean?
It means caring enough. It means choosing to be the kind of person who cares so much, your opportunities to better the world multiply before you more than others.
It means noticing a person's nerves and reaching out to them to help.
It means speaking to other people as if you're speaking to God.
It means being the kind of person who doesn't push a glass door open with his fingers on the glass, simply because someone will have to clean it later.
It means listening, really listening, to a friend or family member speak, and not just spending the time thinking up your reply.
It means believing that most of the people on this planet mean well.
It means not judging an entire group of people based on some who have done wrong.
There are people in this world who will shovel their front walk just so they don't get sued, and not so people don't fall. We all know people like this. They clearly don't care, at least about others. They cut us off on the parkway, they let the door slam in our faces, and they mock other people with an unholy venom. They believe that everyone out there is their enemy until they prove themselves otherwise. They believe the world is filled with bad people, and it's their job to take up arms against them--sometimes literally, but more often than not, verbally and emotionally.
Conversely, a truly good person believes we are all children of God (or, outside of all religious talk, that we are all average human beings until there is serious reason to doubt or fear a particular person).
Being a good person means not just doing good, but believing in good. It means walking through this life like an angel in disguise. It means trying your very best, all the time, not because you're expected to put in a good effort some of the time, but because your highest calling is to be good ALL the time.