Seeking Goodness In a New Way

I spent 365 days attempting to answer the question: What is goodness? Since I completed that quest on June 1, I’ve been bumbling around trying to figure out what to do next. My year-long journey was wonderful. Challenging, fun, intellectually exciting, and in the end, it did enable me to form my first theory of goodness. Looking back, I think it’s rather grandiose to call that a theory; it’s actually more of a hunch of mine — that goodness is a skill. But I did do what I set out to do, and for that, I am pleased.

But my teeth itch. Something’s not quite right here.

At first I thought I just needed to continue the quest to define goodness, but that seems, well, kind of a cop-out. The real issue of goodness is not how to devise the spiffiest intellectual theory. Goodness isn’t about definitions, manifestos or criteria. Ultimately, it’s about living. How do we live right? How do we do right for ourselves and for others?

So, I’m hesitantly shoving my tiny boat back into the water and embarking on a new journey. This time the quest is about acting/being/doing: How can I be good? How do I walk to talk?

Since dates seem to motivate me, I’m charting this as another year-long quest, from Aug. 1, 2011, to Aug. 1, 2012. I’m starting early this week, but then, I always have been an eager sort.

Stay tuned.

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4 Responses to Seeking Goodness In a New Way

  1. Kelley says:

    Great! So glad the journey continues…

  2. Dear Diane,

    I read your article in “The Progressive” with heartfelt sympathy; I also was molested and abused as a child. Its not that our parents are evil, so much as vulnerable. -They too were abused.
    I am a student of history, by inclination and motivation: I was part of the biggest and bloodiest naval shelling operation of the Vietnam war, Linebacker 1. It got my attention and has held it in its grip ever since. The horrific reality of war is that so many civilians get in the way, then they come back and haunt you every day for the rest of your life.

    you are 59 and I am 61. Our parents were born shortly after the horrendous bloodbath of WW1.
    War undermines the value of human life, it is legalized mass-murder and affects whole societies, and, in fact, the whole world. Our parents were abused by their parents because of this war.
    Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, etc,… were scarred by WW1. LBJ, Nixon, JFK, George HW Bush, and our parents were scarred by WW2. You, me, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and our generation were scarred by the bloodbath and our defeat in Vietnam.

    America is a Calvinist nation; we believed God was exclusively on our side, (American exceptionalism), but Vietnam proved that this is not true. Since that defeat the USA has been on a course of rightwing lunacy, corruption, drugs, and extremism, -like the “Roaring Twenties” only it never ends.

    Our parents would not have done such criminal conduct to their kids but for the abuse they themselves suffered, abuse brought on by the scarring nature of war.

  3. Linda Herzberg says:

    Well, Diane, I think you are really getting into the nitty gitty part. It is easier to talk in terms of theory that in practice. Are you looking at making choices, looking at those difficult situations, or something else.

    Also, I think you do have an actual theory about goodness and not just a hunch.

  4. dianesilver says:

    Bill and Linda – Thanks so much for commenting!

    Bill — I am so sorry for your pain, both as a child and as an adult caught up in war. No one should have to go through any of that. You raise an interesting point about the impact of war on an individual’s ability to parent well and do right by others. The impact of war is so far flung that it’s almost unimaginable. I wonder if the human race builds up psychic wounds over time with the emotional impact of war piling up on war piling up on atrocity and terrorism and more war. Damn. That’s not a pleasant thought.

    Linda – I’m simply using myself as an example and attempting to walk through each day being as good as I can possibly be, and then reporting back to you all. By “good,” I mean doing right by myself and others. Of course, as Natalya says in a comment on my 7/27 post, it’s darn hard to figure out what’s good for other people.

    Take care all.

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