Nearly 365 days. Almost 525,948 minutes. That’s how long I’ve been thinking about the question of goodness. Not every minute, of course. There’s been sleeping, laughter, work and movies. But I’ve never been so focused on a single question for so long in my life. Even coming out as a lesbian didn’t take this long. As the year has progressed I’ve realized that the journey has touched me in unexpected ways. Here are just a few.
I’ve come face to face with my own naïveté. When I began this quest, I thought I was pretty darn sophisticated. Actually my attitude could better be described as arrogant. I thought I already had a solid idea about the definition of goodness, and that it was only a matter of doing enough research to discover the best recipe for success. Was that going to be three parts compassion, one part love and four parts charity? Or perhaps, it was one part compassion, one part love, one part charity and two parts wisdom to decide what to use when? All I had to do was find the right mix, and I’d discover the secret to goodness.
What a shock to realize that my recipe approach was no more sophisticated, or useful, than the laundry list of moral rules some religions employ. I wasn’t too different from a fundamentalist who lives by a strict set of rights and wrongs. I just carried around a different list then he did. (Oh my, that realization hurt!)
I’ve also smacked up against my own prejudices, realizing with a shock, that yes Virginia, I carry around my own kinds of bigotry. (For example, when a friend suggested that I interview a Christian minister, I thought: Minister? Why should I interview a stupid minister!?)
But I’ve also learned that pondering goodness makes me feel better. Even winding through the nooks and crannies of a philosophical argument brightens my mood, and I don’t think it is, as one friend said, that I’m seriously esoteric.
Good deeds, positive thoughts, and the idea that people can do and be good quickens my step. Colors are brighter. Bird song is sweeter. Even vegetables taste better. Like the first warm day of spring, there’s a promise being made. Something better is coming.
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