What a long time between posts. This construction job has consumed my life . . .
The job is temporary, however, and it’s not what this post is about.
Doing good. For no reason at all.
Living truthfully. Without exception.
Very difficult things to do in this day and age. I suppose they’ve always been hard, but I believe our modern world makes them ever more difficult. The immense pressures on our personal time and resources stretch our patience and morality to the limits. I see it in my job. Jodi saw it in her job. We see it when driving down the highway. We see it in check out lines at the grocery and retail stores.
The Golden Rule
Just about all major religions or systems of ethical thought have the “Golden Rule” as a tenet: Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, Judaism, Daoism.
He who is virtuous, I am virtuous to him.
He who is not virtuous, I am also virtuous to him.
Of course there are criticisms against the rule. That does not, however, negate its true meaning. In my mind those criticisms are purely philosophical academia: thoughts that must be thought so that we can understand the limits of the rule when applied to and through general human nature.
If the Golden Rule has been so prevalent through the millennia, why then is selfishness so rampant in society? I don’t really have an answer to that question, but I do have a thought on it. I believe capitalism and the pursuit of material wealth has become the new rule. The world has become material wealthier, but it has not really become richer. Or, I suppose, through the ages the game has been the same, we simply have better and more sophisticated tools to measure and report it thus making it look worse these days.
We compartmentalize our lives so that the gain we realize does not exist as a loss to someone else. Economics tells us that there is a business/economic cycle: what goes up must come down. In a stock market, if we sell a stock at a profit, someone eventually must sell it at a loss. We dehumanize the other end or . . . to put it bluntly . . . we just don’t give a damn about that other person because we see him as an enemy. A competitor for the same scarce resource. Someone we must beat to that highly prized parking space. A person that we are compelled to make second to us at that upcoming traffic light.
Better him than me.
— Anonymous participant in a capitalist economy
Essentially, capitalism has turned into a zero-sum system. For the modern system to work as it is implemented, there must be winners and losers. There can be no ties and we certainly cannot have winners on both sides of the equation. For if the guy on the other side of the equation is a winner right now, he most certainly then gains the resources to make us a loser at some future time. Furthermore, we must consume and horde all the resources RIGHT NOW. This ensures no one else has free assess to them, because surely they will horde them if we don’t.
For simple examples of this look no further than the games of Monopoly® and RISK®. Conquer the whole board to be the winner.
Doing Good by Being Good
I often think maybe if we all just stopped focusing on “doing” and instead centered on “being” then things might change. It’s not about doing good. It’s really about being good. If we are good, then we will do good. Be virtuous and virtuosity is the result. Live ethically and ethical living is the result.
I can say from my own experience, it is dang difficult to be nice to that person that just spit in your face. But, sometimes, our greatest honor is in our worldly disgrace.
I will admit that I have been among those that focused on doing and not being. My actions depended on the expected personal material results. I pursued things that fulfilled my own personal desires without regard to those around me.
In the end it did not make for a peaceful, fruitful, and truthful life. I suspect that it does not for most people that walk that path. And I have a sneaking suspicion that, in the end, that’s where all the anger and frustration comes from.
So, go out and and be good just for the sake of being. It actually feels . . . good.