Have you ever asked yourself if you were a good person? Probably yes, but if the answer is no, however, you might be surprised when you finish reading the article. And why? Simply because there is no one correct answer for this question. In the first place, who defines the meaning of good and bad if everyone has their own aspects?
As a kid we had specific connotations of the words bad and good. The environment in which a kid grows up, meaning the parents, their culture and their religion, is the first and most important influence in the development of the kid’s moral norms and ethical standards. Later on, it is completed with the personal experiences which help forming a personal opinion on the different aspects of life. We learn how to treat others and we develop expectations towards them. As we grow up, however, we find out that this very clear line that has been drawn is actually quite blurry with many gray areas. So how do we determine who is good and who is bad? Do we judge people for their past if they have stolen and been deceitful? Or do we forget about the kind of person they were? The once simple way of thinking changes as we grow up and it becomes more difficult to decide what character traits we are supposed to look at in a person.
We can understand it better with an easy example and think about our everyday life.
Person A: A neurosurgeon helps people on a daily basis and has saved hundreds of lives over the course of ten years. He has a wife who says he is a great man and even though he works long hours, he gives her all the attention she needs. Also, he is the model father with 3 children. He has never missed a theatre performance or baseball game of either of his children.
Person B: Every week he cheats on his wife. He has stolen over $10 000 from his friends and family over a span of ten years. Additionally, he has become an alcoholic which is combined with strong depression. As a kid, he was a bully, and as an adult, he isn’t much better.
What if I told you they were the same person?
We might like to think that our judgments are always well thought-out, but research suggests that our moral judgments are often based on intuition. Our emotions seem to drive our intuitions, that gives us the feeling in our gut that something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ In some cases, however, we seem to be able to override these initial reactions. Don’t worry, this is normal human behaviour and the person who never reacted this way is probably lying.
My kind of good and bad picture by TheImpulsiveBuy
As long as we don’t hurt others in any way, be it physical, emotional or any other way, we should live our lives according to our instincts about good or bad. Unless our instincts lie…
By Laura Koch