Friday, November 12, 2010

For goodness sake

Anne of Green Gable fans may remember the part where Anne muses about what she would choose if she could only choose one of the following: to be incredibly smart or beautiful or angelically good (correct me if I'm wrong). If my memory serves, she knows she should choose to be good, but her vanity would like to be smart and beautiful, too. Wouldn't we all. I'm not trying to be preachy here, rather seeking a little guidance myself. I think a lot lately about how to be a good person. And a recent discussion with a friend showed me it crosses her mind a lot, too.

In our world where we are constantly bombarded with ways to take better care of the planet, being good has taken on a whole new meaning. A trip to the supermarket can be a real headache. According to whatever alarmist documentary I've just seen, I need to worry about things like which fruits and veggies are really in season (cause otherwise they're transported from South America and have a huge carbon footprint). And does it have palm oil in it, cause in some countries they're destroying the native forests to plant huge palm plantations. Not to mention it's not good for your health. And what about the Fairtrade products that support the workers' well-being? That plastic garden table? Well, it's using up our oil supply and was probably produced in China so used up energy coming here.

But in the end, doing all those things doesn't really scratch the surface on being good. Sure, it can be important, but the guy who litters on the sidewalk then buys a homeless man a three-course meal is a better person than the environmentalist who never buys out of season veggies. Or is he? Modern life ain't so easy. But I'm more often bothered by the feeling that I'm not doing enough for my fellow man. I see the tragedies on TV, families torn apart or decimated, children sickened by cancer, people living out of their cars, and I wonder what I really can do. Besides just donating at Christmas or the food drive at the grocery store. It's not enough just to say I care and say my heart goes out to these people. If I'm not part of the solution, am I part of the problem? It's all well and good to say I feel for these poor folks, then to go on obsessing about traffic and my own budget.

I'm not saying I'm going to start living every moment down at the local food shelter, but I know that I need to do more. So what to do? I suppose I could start by being thankful for that all that I have. It really is "another day for you and me in paradise" to quote (oh, forgive me) Phil Collins. So less complaining! Less wasting of food! And more compassion.

Would appreciate knowing how others feel about this subject. Peace out!


Jessamyn said...

Lovely post, but I will not forgive you for quoting Phil Collins.

I think it may start with the everyday actions - holding the door for someone, smiling and saying hello, alerting someone of a mistake or danger. These are the small things that can lead to being a good person.

And although I try to donate and be green as much as I can, it's hard to feel like you make a real difference. If we concentrate on teaching children how to be good people everyday (like you with JuJu), then maybe we will have more people in this world who care. And then those with power, influence, and substantial money to make a difference, will ACTUALLY make a difference because they are good people.

So I guess I'm saying - start with the everyday acts of kindness.

Anonymous said...

There's someone new at work that I like a lot and I was saying that I feel people take advantage of me because I'm a 'foreigner'. She said that they take advantage because I'm good natured. I will not apologise for being well brought up, nor will I change for anyone. I read Anne of Green gables too and it marked me. It's a great thing to be good natured. You just have to learn to dispose of the people that take you for granted or abuse this good nature. Do things that make you feel good, after all, that's all that counts.

Jenenz said...

I agree with Jessamyn, it's the little things that we do on a daily basis that counts. The way you interact and treat a person. Not making assumptions. Being respectful. Yes, a little kindness goes a long way.