Day 9: Am I a Good Man?
Am I a good man?
Is that the right question?
It sort of haunts me. It plays through my head on loop while I writhe around my bed for hours each night until I can fall asleep. It's not the question which keeps me up per se but it certainly captivates my attention while I wait for sleep to come.
Or when I take a shower, walk around campus, sit down alone to a meal in a crowded cafeteria.
Am I a good person? Am I doing it right? Am I helping?
And what if I were to act utterly out of character? to violate the image you've all made of me?
How much of my goodness is entangled with the judgment and perception of others?
Is the goodness vs. badness framework just a worthless moral binary, a vestige of puritanical religion? Or is it the folk religion of America? Faithful or otherwise, we are all obsessed with being "good people". We can't have productive conversations around race or sexual identity or language or gun control because we hear any critique as our goodness being called into question and react with violence. Which only serves to rob us of whatever ephemeral "goodness" there may have been in us to begin with.
Are people good because of their actions? Or are actions good because of their people? If good people do bad things, does it make them bad? Is there a point where the scale tips? And if so can it ever tip back?
How much of the help I offer is tied to my own moralistic agenda? How much is image maintenance? Do I do good because it's expected or because I want to help? Is the latter just as selfish because it feels good?
And is any of it worth anything at all if I just do it to get into heaven?
Too many damn questions.
I take for granted there are answers but maybe I don't get to touch them this side of eternity.