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Are you a good person?

If you’re a good person, answer this one question.

by Sam
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You only need to ask someone one question to find out if they are good: “Do you think you are a good person?”

There is only one right way to answer this. People who are good never, ever say “no.” They know what it means to be kind, patient, forgiving, willing to give in, say you’re sorry and gentle.

You can’t be a good person and feel completely free of guilt and innocent on the inside at the same time. One could say that the only way to be good is to be constantly and carefully aware of your ability to be bad, or callous, cruel, self-righteous, and insensitive to the real needs of others. One can get close to the moral high ground that deserves the label “good” only by always giving the impression that they don’t have the right to judge themselves without being questioned (a word one can still never use of oneself). People who are truly good have a nagging fear of being monsters and don’t like to call others monsters. Virtue starts with having a guilty conscience.

In the same way, only really bad people lie awake at night thinking about who they are. People who are hard to get along with and dangerous rarely think that they might be lacking in some way. Their mental illness shows up in the fact that they can’t look at themselves and take responsibility for their actions. Instead, they blame others for their problems. And it is their job to make the unclean clean by offering them as sacrifices for their own righteousness.

Some of the worst crimes in human history were committed by people who were sure they were right and thought they were in charge of justice. People who report their neighbours to the secret police, mobs who burn their victims on stakes while dancing around their writhing bodies, government officials who set up “purification camps,” and nations that kill their enemies in particularly barbaric ways all have the same belief: that they are doing the right thing in the eyes of God, history, or Truth. Never assume that a bad person knows what they are doing is wrong. Remember that they did their bad things because they thought they were good. Some of the worst things that have happened to people are because they wanted to save them.

Sometimes it’s hard to deal with the fear of not being good. It hurts to think about all the times you took unfair advantages or acted hastily, maliciously, or without much thought. But it’s only by having such strong doubts that you can keep your pride and anger in check and become the kind of person who is thoughtful and gentle.

There is no limit to how many eggs can be broken to make a “righteous omelette.” This is a trait of all of history’s cruellest times when certain groups decide they have found a cause that gives them a monopoly on justice. This could be because they think a certain god has given them a special job to get rid of sin, or because their studies in economics or biology have shown them that there is only one way to a good future. And, by extension, the most generous times in history are when most people wake up every day wondering how they can be kind to others when they are so flawed themselves; when scepticism and apologies are the norms in every social interaction; when people are always kind in word and deed because they feel untouchable; and when people can always forgive because they know how much they need to be forgiven.

 

 

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