Good, not Right

Beggars really annoy me lately.

Not beggars themselves, but the questions that remain in my ear as I walk away from giving.

Did I do the right thing?“, I ask myself.

It might be important to start by stating that my assumption is that good isn’t always right. I say this because good people go to jail too, and if good people can still be found guilty, then being good is simply not enough.

If we accept that “good” is a matter of being, therefore a trait, then “right” becomes a matter of doing. And as many would be quick to make reference to the whole “you are judged by what we see”, it is unfortunate that this will apply in most of the situations.

Though the question of whether mankind’s possible good nature is debatable, and highly ambiguous in its discourse, it simply does not provide enough material for a human being to be judged on. In fact, this is where notions of “right” and “wrong” apply. (or ought to). Seems that “right” and “wrong” are but simplified versions of “good” and “evil”.

Indeed, such terms are made tangible for the sake of convenience in regulating human affairs. What is right and wrong is codified, written and followed as almost universally accepted set of rules, so, our rights and wrongs can be easily verified, and dealt with accordingly.

What problems does this pose? Well, where do human beings stand in situations where being good does not translate into doing the right thing?

Reconsider the beggars. The good thing is to, of course, give them money, which is what these particular beggars ask for. However, having the almost common knowledge that this same money that departs from my hands ends in a drug dealer’s shelf, and so making me the direct (though indirectly) investor to their drug addiction, would I be doing the right thing?

I can’t deprive a fellow human being of a resource I have, for this would make me selfish, but at the same time, I do not want to be involved in deepening his own addiction.

In this situation, not giving money could be seen as the right thing to do, but surely not a reflection of mankind’s good nature. (assuming we have one)

Another similar situation is this,

This is making think of this time when I used to work for a grocery store in high school. A real unfortunate-looking man came in and paid for this huge cart of groceries with his government assistance card. The card didn’t have enough money to cover the cost of his bill, so I spotted the dude like $30. He broke down crying and hugged me and junk, but my boss scolded me for like an hour about how it was the wrong thing to do.

Why is it that we are punished for doing the wrong thing, even if we display goodness in our interactions?

Perhaps we are more “comfortable” with being good, rather doing what’s right.

And if being good and doing the right thing do not equate, then is it better to do the right thing, rather than being good?

Maybe it all goes back to the way in which we (faulty) perceive things: judgements come from actions, and since we don’t measure anyone’s inherent nature, or “good” intentions, we are stuck with what we do. (and what we see)






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