Monday, May 20, 2013

What's so bad about good? (Part one of two)

This weekend, one of the writers I follow on twitter, happynerdjohn , posed this question: I'm sick of people calling superman a goody goody. What's wrong with being good?

Since I frequently ask myself the same question, I decided to tackle it in a duo of blog posts.

In order to get a bead on why people don't prefer "good" characters, I took the question to facebook. Three common themes emerged: one, that characters like Superman are hard to identify with, because they aren't subject to the same ,imitations as we mere humans.cannot strive to the same standards. This I can relate to, and I'd even say most of us have human friends that seem superhuman, that we feel sure we could never be as good as.
Secondly, good is highly subjective. Does "good" refer to legality, morality, or compassion? What about when those clash? (If you know me at all you know I'll always place compassion and justice above legality and strict morality, and so do most of the people I enjoy having in my life). I think true evil is easier to quantify than good. We look at people like Hitler and know he was evil. We look at the Europeans who risked their lives to hide Jews in their walls and fake exit visas were good (even as they lied and broke the law). But what of those involved in plots to assassinate Hitler? They were planning the death of another, but for the greater good. Is that Good? What of those who did nothing? Where are they morally?
I don't think we've answered those questions, and probably never will.

The last is that good can be used as a bludgeon; that people style themselves as good yet are in reality controlling, self righteous, or even as a competition. For myself, rather, this arguments means that we need to re frame and reclaim the word "good". Let's call self righteous, holier-than-though, and controlling people out for what they are and apply the word good to those who work for justice, mercy and compassion. And in the final analysis, I DO like having ideals like Superman to try and live up to. Fighting for truth and justice? that's Good, with a capital G.

Next: "You Say Vanilla Like That's a Bad Thing"


At 3:28 PM, Blogger Rebecca Kvenvolden said...

I think that our human nature is to be predisposed to sinfulness, so while we are created in the image of God and at least KNOW what good is supposed to look like, we still long for the "bad" the "bad boys" were always really appealing to me growing up, they are usually the ones the girls go after in the movies. Part of us, deep down, i think, wants to be selfish, to be contrary, to be bad.


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