When You Have The Chance, I Hope You Choose To Do Good

My therapist told me something the other day that really stuck with me: “Humans have to work at being good.” She said that being a good person is not just something that happens because we grew up in a loving home or had strong mentors. Being good is not intrinsic. It is something we must constantly strive towards.

Of course, everyone’s definition of goodness varies, but in every religion, there’s some code of ethics to follow. There’s moral intelligence. Being the flawed humans that we are, it’s expected that we color outside the lines. That we rebel against the rules. We aren’t meant to get it right every time. We are, however, meant to challenge ourselves to be better than yesterday’s mistakes. We’re meant to constantly be at work with ourselves, to reshuffle our outlooks and remold our character. We’re also meant to question the morals that have been passed down to us from previous generations.

For some, being good is effortless. For others, it’s work. When I cast judgment on my peers without much context, for example, I need to consciously bend my thoughts in a more positive direction, as if defying nature. Or when I go to the store to make a small purchase, and the POS system asks me if I’d like to donate $0.70 to research for children’s cancer. Sometimes, I’m in a rush and I don’t donate. It is, perhaps, the smallest contribution I could make. It doesn’t even require thought, and yet, I don’t do it every time. It’s not muscle memory.

But I have done far worse than judge without context or neglect to donate $0.70 to children’s cancer. I’ve lied to people who trusted me, I’ve taken from those who loved me. So, where does this leave me on the gamut of good versus evil?

The scary thing is, I’m capable of so much worse than everything I listed above. We all are. But we’re also capable of so much better too. And that’s not scary, that’s a beautiful truth.

Learning to put others before myself is something I am trying to learn, it is not something that comes naturally. But I like to think that this awareness is a solid start. It’s my attempt at trying to be better.

I’ve realized that being good is a privilege. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to it. Some must steal to survive; some never experienced love or affection in the first place. They have tougher battles to fight. That’s why it’s so crucial for the ones who are able to give more than they get to donate their time, their money, their resources. For us, it’s no big deal, but for someone else, it could be everything. It could be the very thing that saves them.