What does a good person look like in today’s world?
Hope to get your brain engines working, dealing with some more difficult issues that we all deal with. Every day we hear the opinions of others on politics, religion, entertainment, etc. But how often can we really sit down and have philosophical discussions?
News gives us the ‘what’, but philosophy gives us the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Yes, there is a lot of philosophical thought that accompanies discussions about politics and entertainment. Yet, there are deeper underlying questions that need to be thought about in order to truly understand the world we live in.
Philosophy began in ancient times with great minds like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. Today, with the rise of social media, there are a lot of new ways of doing things and a lot of old questions resurfacing. I am not here to tell you how to live your life, or to try to convince you that I am perfect because I am not. Like everyone else, I made mistakes and grew from them.
The idea of being a good person is one that I have been thinking about a lot of time recently. It all started when I started watching food cravings “The right place“ on Netflix. The show focuses on a woman, who was not supposed to end up at the Good Place after her death, but resides there.
The whole show is a debate on whether the characters for their faults should be in the right place or the wrong place depending on the level of mistakes they made. The show tells the life stories of many others who have ended up in the right or wrong place and questions how people are judged for their time in the afterlife.
The truth is: there is no clear way to define who is a good or a bad person. Both good and bad behavior exist in this world. Both behaviors can be extremely simple or difficult to define. For example, it is obvious that deliberately cheating or plagiarizing is bad behavior. Acting in this manner is a form of theft and is almost always done knowingly and intentionally.
Good behavior can be as simple as making sure you don’t steal other people’s work, or maybe even helping a friend understand academic integrity if they’re confused. Behaviors do not define whether a person is good or bad. In my opinion, in order to tell whether a person is really good or bad, it is important to look at them as holistically as possible.
If good behaviors in a person far outweigh bad behaviors, there may be arguments in favor of being a good person and vice versa. What makes it so difficult to define a good person is that at the end of the day, no matter how someone behaves or treats the people around them, you will never know what their true intentions or thoughts.
It can be hard to tell if someone you haven’t known for a long time is really a good person. With people you know, it can usually become clear based on their actions. In my opinion, some basic principles of being a good person are to be empathetic, to admit and grow from your mistakes, to be honest and to be honest.
Being empathetic means understanding what another person is feeling or going through and trying to put themselves in their shoes. This can sometimes be difficult to do, because no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Your best bet is to communicate and ask others how you can help them, or even just show them that you understand what they are going through. You can empathize with anyone, even people you don’t know.
It can be something as simple as holding the door to someone behind you on your way to the same building or greeting the guy who let you go down a merge lane on a busy highway. People who make even these small gestures show that they recognize your existence and also respect your time.
Eventually you’ll reach the doorknob or the road will clear up, meaning you can open the door for yourself or blend into the freeway.
These small actions, however, give us hope that there are empathetic people in the world who are thinking of someone other than themselves. These actions are by no means the only actions that should be taken by an empathetic person.
Other examples might be helping someone at work when they need a blanket, even if you don’t feel like going in, or taking the time to listen and comfort your friends when they are having difficulty. You might leave the plate of cookies in the dining room knowing these cookies could make someone’s day.
It can be as simple as helping your parent, roommate, or anyone you live with by doing housework or cooking meals to lighten their weight, being nice to someone who works in retail or taking one more step to ask. how are their days.
Empathy is extremely important, especially in times when the pandemic is still hot and heavy. No one is perfect, and no one necessarily needs to always put everyone first – this is how people can benefit from your good deeds. It is important to have a balance and to understand when is the appropriate time to put others first and when you should put yourself first.
You want to let someone go down a merging lane, but you don’t want to sit there for an hour because you’re letting everyone go. You want to help the people you live with keep the house clean or prepare meals, but you don’t want to take full responsibility for having a house on your own. Balance is good and healthy, always try to assess how appropriate an action is for the setting and your needs.
Julia Fuchs is a first-year arts and science school with a major in history and anthropology and a minor in French and archeology. His column, “Questioning Jules”, is broadcast every Thursday.
* Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
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