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Making Goodness Relevant
Where is compassion, the acknowledgment of our collective failings, appreciation of the efforts of others?
What is goodness? The ability to go beyond our own personal interests and look at the good of the whole. People’s goodness comes out when we care for and about others, as well as ourselves; when we consider the long-term effects of what we do, rather than short-term gain; when we extend ourselves to strangers, have compassion for those who hurt us, attempt to comprehend people and cultures that seem to threaten us; when we overcome our reactivity and strive to understand people and situations and when we take action based on that understanding, rather than ignore what we know and indulge in anger, judgment and indignation.
Does anyone care about goodness, or does it just make a great feel-good story on the news, soon to be forgotten, drowned out by the vitriol and venom that passes as political debate and social commentary? Look at the consciousness that feeds the frenzy of the press. We all blame the press for its negativity, but it’s our desire for dirt that feeds that frenzy. Isn’t it we who look for the negative, the slimy, so that we can denigrate other people and bring them down in order to make ourselves feel better about ourselves?
And look how quick we are to judge. A human being’s lifetime dedication to the common good is eclipsed because of a sexual indiscretion, the same kind of indiscretion we see and tolerate in ourselves or others around us. A president’s dedication to service is eclipsed because we are angry and disappointed that he or she cannot create miracles and save us. We judge others as venal and corrupt, while we pursue our own narrow self-interest, blind to the plight of others around us or in far-off places.
Where is goodness in any of this? Where is compassion, the acknowledgment of our collective failings, appreciation of the efforts of others?
Some of us try to be “good.” But too often that goodness is not about being compassionate and accountable, conscious of our impact on ourselves and others, a value unto itself. Instead goodness is a way of scamming the universe, avoiding chastisement and garnering rewards. I am good so that I will not be punished by “God,” society or my conscience.
Sometimes goodness is an image. We pretend to be good in order to benefit from other people’s approval and to avoid criticism. But goodness is not about looking virtuous, while we’re masking negative feelings toward ourselves or others; it is about understanding our connection to others and behaving in a way that is in alignment with that understanding. And finally some people are good, because they are programmed to sacrifice themselves, not realizing that the highest good of all must include them as well.
Goodness is not about fear of punishment. It’s not about how we look or about what we receive in return. It’s not about sacrifice. It is a state of mind. It flows naturally from feeling connected to the Oneness, to the community, to a higher consciousness. It comes from an already existing feeling of inner well-being, which, like a fountain, continues to circulate positive energy. It comes from the profound spiritual understanding that we are all one, and what we do to one another we do to ourselves. And the reward is the way we feel inside ourselves; the way we feel when we have done the right thing under challenging circumstances, when we have given when we feel we have nothing left to give, when we have stayed our own hand from assassinating another being through thought or action.
Is goodness important to anyone? It’s important to all of us. Goodness, the capacity to see beyond our own needs, desires and emotions, the ability to co-create and be mutually supportive, the act of surrendering to higher consciousness, is the bulwark of mental health and social well-being. And it is worth fighting for.
Those people who wish to co-create a world based on spiritual principles, especially the principles of oneness, co-creation and mutual support, can often feel irrelevant and marginalized. Sometimes they are even mocked. Why? Because those who do not practice goodness suffer from their own negative state of consciousness; they live in their own inner hell. When they observe goodness, they cannot believe it exists; it is outside their paradigm of reality. Or if they suspect that the goodness is real, they compare themselves negatively, judge themselves secretly and try to deflect from that pain by mocking others. Isn’t it up to us to give them hope that they can change, too?
Is goodness irrelevant, or is it just marginalized in a world based on self-interest and ego? What have been the results of organizing our lives around “me”? Are we in fact happier, more secure, more relaxed; or are we tormented by fear, desperation and the feeling of aloneness? We all know the answer to this question. In a society based on the values of money, personal success and competition, we are not happy. If we were, there would be fewer people on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, fewer unhappy beings drinking, overeating and using drugs, fewer souls lost in anger, resentment and fear.
How do we make goodness relevant? By acknowledging its value and the urgency of our embracing it. Those of us with a vision of a different world need to recognize that our commitment to higher consciousness is relevant to everyday life, more relevant than the habits of generations, more relevant than the prevailing culture, more relevant than the fears we carry about standing up and being counted. If you have an intuitive connection to higher consciousness, share it. If you have a feeling about cooperation, bring it forward. If you have insights into despair, share them. If you believe in integrity rather than the exclusive focus on self-protection, if you believe in promoting the highest good of all rather than exploiting the system, then take that consciousness to the streets.
How does goodness become relevant? Through us! Goodness is not relevant, unless we make it so. Let’s stop protecting ourselves. Let’s leave the sanctuary of our own friends, spiritual organizations, families and private conversations. Let’s take a chance on ourselves and humanity. Let’s bring higher consciousness into everyday life and ask others to do the same. Yes!