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Beyond Good and Bad – Through the Looking Glass

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Beyond Good and Bad – Through the Looking Glass

What is ‘good’ and do we know when we are or aren’t actually ‘good’?

Philosophers ponder both ends of this ethical scale, but is it really measurable?

Surely since we cannot take subjectivity out of the equation, there is no way to know what ‘good’ even is. In its most general context, the concept of good denotes that conduct which is to be or should be preferred when posed with a choice between a set of possible actions.

Looking into the mirror?

The ‘looking-glass self’ is a concept that describes the development of one’s self and of one’s identity through interpersonal interactions within the context of society.

As I gaze upon my reflection do I dare to ask, “Am I  a good or bad person?”

I may be mistaken in what I believe because of convenient false information I have obtained. But make no mistake, the same cannot be said for deliberately obtained information based on bias, personal gain or motive.

We may not always know the truth, but it is always obtainable.

Looking outwardly.

Politicians, environment, faith convictions, megalomaniacal social media, and a world where the importance of making the sale measures your success, clouds the measuring tool.

It’s not all bad; there are several big movements which encourage culpability and responsibility, and thinking outside ‘self’. These organisations are coming from outside a place of religion or traditional political movements; they encourage consciousness.

They believe in being ‘woke’ or in an ‘awareness’, in essence, sorting out who and what we owe an ethical responsibility towards outside ourselves.

The convenient truth.

People may be completely honest in what they say, but they may not be truthful about their intent. Their true intent may be to use ‘honest’ statements as a way to make others look bad, to elevate themselves.

Their convenient truth to make the sale, to look interesting or to be right.

Conversely, I may not be 100% honest with someone. As an example, a family member asks me if I like the gift she bought me, yet I don’t really care for it. However, the truth is that I want to:

  • Care for that person.
  • Appreciate the thought that went into the gift.
  • Wish to validate that person and her thoughtfulness.

So, my answer comes from those three truths. Hence my answer is, “Thank you for the gift. It is appreciated.” That is the truth, not just my convenient truth.

Just because you are an honest person and sincere, doesn’t mean that everything that you say is the truth, is it?

Being a good person.

By donating to a charity, in essence, is good, right? But what if we consider the manner in which you got that money in the first place. Did it hurt people, their feelings, animals, environment or lack morals?

Additionally, did you give to charity because its right or for your ego, for recognition to post? Does one outweigh the other? Is doing good, good enough to ignore your bad?

Although our day-to-day actions could be considered mostly good, our motivations can be corrupt which in turn isn’t good at all. As having a motive is wrong; motive means we are doing ‘good’ for a gain.

Is doing good with motive, therefore not good at all, and essentially bad?

Business ethic.

You provided product or services and didn’t complete the task or package promised, implied or such. As an example, I sell my book, it promises change through discipline and effort, but my reader doesn’t make the changes, do I have ethical responsibilities?

In business, how do we prioritise being good people, when it seems everything and everyone is about façades, do we need to bend the rules, create an image of ourselves and our business?

Being our best selves.

It’s not about being the perfect person that’s suitable for Heaven (Christian) or Firdaus (Islamic) but is simply bringing the best person you can be in here and now. We have to create our own true ‘best self’ now.

Let truth and honesty be the beating heart of your business, be damned if it doesn’t get you the job, business or praise for now; it gets you self-respect via the truth.

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” ― Marcus Aurelius.

Beyond good and bad – The payoff.

‘Good’ – Simply put, is how you treat those who can do nothing for you and it’s also doing more without motive, recognition or favour.

Doing ‘good’ causes a natural release of the hormone oxytocin; oxytocin is the ‘feel good’ drug. I’m sure most of you know this already, but did you know the feeling is infectious?

Should you share your sandwich with a homeless person not only do you get a ‘feel good’ feeling but so does the person receiving the goodwill. Here’s the kicker, if I see you do this good turn, I also get a release of oxytocin.

Do good, receive good, witness good.

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