Roy T. Bennet once said, “We should be brave to stand up for what we truly believe even if we are standing alone.” I first heard a version of this quote in 2014, when I was posted in a small, southern Saskatchewan community that had it painted on one of the walls in their high school. theirs read, “Stand up for what you believe, even if you’re standing alone.” I like both versions and they both ring true with me, considering they tend to diverge slightly in their wording.
But today’s post isn’t about what one believes in. It’s about being good. What is a good person? Is it constantly doing good deeds? Is it doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you? Or is it simply the act of living simply and minding your own business without bringing harm to others? I could easily argue that being a good person is a combination of all those things. You don’t need to wear a cape and run around saving people all the time, but I believe you should damn well give it your best if you find someone who needs your help. After all, it’s also been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
I think that if you can live a genuine life of not causing suffering in others, you can easily be a good person. Of course, that’s the Buddhist side of me, coming out. But there are so many things that are easy to do in life in order to be good… Simple things, like holding a door open for others, helping someone carry something heavy to their car or helping a friend pack up and move from one home to another…
The possibilities are endless. But I think the ultimate test comes from seeing what you do when you aren’t being watched. Get your minds out of the gutters, you perverts! I don’t mean anything nasty! I mean what actions and steps you take to be good when there are no consequences and no one is watching to see what you’d do. I think this speaks to the nature of a person’s character and how “good” they truly are.
One really good example of this, is the shopping cart conundrum. I’m sure you’ve read about this on Facebook or some other online forum. Basically, the question has been asked whether you return your shopping cart to the cart corral after you’ve loaded up your car or if you leave the cart sitting in the parking lot and drive away. I’ve heard some folks say that it helps with job creation, justifying the need for a job position that fills the role of collecting these carts. Others say that it’s cruel to make minimum wage workers scavenge the lot for these carts in the depth of winter or sweltering heat of summer, to collect the carts you failed to bring to the corral.
The reality is that returning your cart costs you nothing. It usually takes thirty seconds to a minute of your time (big deal) depending on where the corral is located. But that simple act ensures that you prevent hazards to other vehicles in the parking lot, make life easier for the lot attendant who collects the carts and ensures that there are more carts available inside the store once they are collected. It also prevents blocking potential parking spots. If you DON’T return your cart, there is zero penalty, zero consequences and zero repercussions against you (except karma, but I’ll be nice and won’t go there). So returning the cart is a pure act of a good person, whether one believes they need to do it or not.
This is just one example, but there are plenty of others. Holding the door is another good example. Do you HAVE to hold open a door for someone? If your momma taught you well, you will. But you don’t have to. There are no penalties or repercussions if you don’t. You may even encounter a surprising number of people who won’t be grateful when you do. But it’s another pure act of goodness that only satisfies you, really.
Being a good person can mean a lot of different things to different people. At the end of the day, as long as you’re keeping things simple, doing what’s right and staying consistent within the laws of whatever place you live in, it’s hard to go wrong. Just remember that even when no one is looking, karma still gets its due. And if you do great things when people are watching but bad thing when you’re alone, that shit’ll catch up to you. Guaranteed. Food for thought… ☯