Thursday, March 18, 2010
I was thinking recently about the men that i know that really try and be good people. These gentleman have being a good person and doing the right thing as a priority in their lives. It is certainly my top priority. I do not always get it right, but i try to do the best that i can by the people who i come across and sometimes i falter, but i try. I feel like i do a good job for the most part. Others who i can think of off the top of my head are John Williams, Bryan Beard, Tom Laitinen. With these guys, i am confident that they wrestle with and struggle with their decisions to try and make them the most positive that they can be for the world around them and the people that they encounter and deal with on a daily basis. Conversations with Bryan Beard actually inspired this blog. He was talking about various things that he believes in, giving a living wage to the people who work for him and especially presenting a positive role model for the kids that look up to him and those in his show. These things do not have to do with money or fame, but with trying to create a better world by giving a good role model to young people who look up to knights and chivalry. The bad guys do not win in his shows, and they especially do not win by cheating.
I don't think that people who are not in this category are "bad" per se, but i do feel that for the most part in our culture people do the right thing because they do not want to get in trouble and out of fear. I feel that most of the people that i encounter seek their own benefit first and that is what they care about. In crisis situations we can see the hero come out in everyone, but i am talking about during the day to day walking about in life, having your desire to be the best for the world around you that you can possibly be. These are the people that i am talking about now.
Anyway, i was wondering what it is about this group of people who seek out a higher purpose and moral life that they have in common. First, we are all geeks. I think one of the big things that we have in common, bear with me, is comic books. We all have in our head the image of the hero that we want to be. "With great power comes great responsibility." Somewhere in all of our lives we have dreamed of being that hero, being that white knight that saves the day. I see this also, sometimes, in the martial arts world. People who took martial arts classes had this person in the front of the class that they could look up to. Someone with great power and the ability to hurt people who Chose to be a person of peace and a person of knowledge and to help the student grow on their path. This image gives kids something to look up to and that can translate into a life of service. The goal, the black belt, looms large as does the teacher who wears it. Martial arts give you a journey and purpose to achieve.
The hero image. Not a bad thing. These geeks are some of the best people that i know. I trust them. When they say that they are going to do something their honor dictates that they try their best to get it done. When they speak, i believe that the words they speak are true as they understand them. Many people i have dealt with in life and in the business world have an agenda and i learned that most people that i have encountered, will lie to you if it is convenient. They will do what they have to do to get ahead. We are encouraged to do this in our system. The hero image helps to counterbalance this and turn people away from just wanting to make money, to wanting to make the world a better place, to be the best man or woman that one can be.
I am a fan of the samurai concept of telling the truth. The samurai spoke true to you, not because it was dictated by some divine being or book, but because to not speak the truth means that you are a coward. This is morality out of courage, not morality out of fear. John Stuart Mill said he would sooner burn in Hell than convert to an evil God. Do we have that courage?
While i was working in a business someone once told me, "you don't have to be nice to them, they would not be nice to you." A lot of people follow this idea. It is all right to bad to those who would not be good to you. I think this is a weak excuse for a positive life. I am good to people not because they are good to me, but because i believe that it is the right thing to do regardless of who i am dealing with. I do not try and be the best person that i can be because i expect a reward, but because it is important to me to follow the highest standard that i can and do what i believe in. I think that is what is behind Jesus saying, "Even Caesar loves his friends, love your enemies as well." We should be our best regardless of consequences and regardless of what we think we are going to get in return. I feel that way about the people i listed above. I try to be that way myself. Of course the side effect of this is that when you live your life and do the best that you can, people tend to treat you well because you are a decent human. It is a nice side effect, but not the reason to do your best.
I ama also a fan of the Greek concept of arete or excellence. Do everything you do with verve and gusto. Live your life fully. John Williams and i in beginning to write our Men of Action show coined it like this, "Don't stop living til you die and don't be dead while you are alive."
If you get a chance, try it out, be a good person just for the sake of it. There are philosophical arguments to be made about what it means to be a good person, but i have decided to be a Man of Action and go out and do what i can come up with as the best that i can be. Sitting in a room philosophizing never got anyone very far.