As your day starts, do you ask yourself what good you shall do today? As your day ends, do you ask yourself, what good did you do today?
And what is your answer?
And if you do not ask yourself these things, why don’t you? I too need to improve my practice.
Of course, what is “good”?
Some time ago when I first read Dale Carnegie’s famous How To Win Friends and Influence People, one thing that struck me from his first chapter was his demonstration that even ruthless criminals consider what they are doing is “good”. It’s simply human that we only undertake things we consider “good”. Where the issue comes is when your definition of good differs from my definition, or society’s definition.
To me, a key differentiator is – kindness.
To be friendly, generous, considerate. It implies interaction with others, in a friendly, generous, and considerate way.
You may think killing a bunch of people you find repugnant is “doing good”. But where is the kindness in such action?
You may think manifesting your outrage, labeling others as “wrong”, shouting them down, campaigning for change is doing good. But where is the kindness? And in your self-evaluation, are you considering kindness towards your enemies as well? Or are you just blindly rationalizing your choices?
Look at the fruits of such action. Is it making the world better? Is it leading to a world of more kindness and understanding? At least as I see it, it’s only making matters worse.
Carnegie concludes his chapter:
Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”
I’ve been so angered and saddened the past few days. Another horrible thing happens in the world, and so many people’s response is more anger, more lashing out, more fuel for their political fires, more attacking symptoms and not underlying problems, more blindness, more blame, more hate – and especially from people who espouse otherwise. Something about a log in your own eye.
They all believe what they are doing is “good”. But goodness without kindness, I don’t think is good.
I see no attempt to understand.
I see no attempt at kindness.
I see no attempt to love.
But I strengthen my resolve. What good shall I do this day?
What good will you do this day?