CHARACTER AND CONSEQUENCES
What's the point of being good?
Why does it always feel like bad things happen to good people? And people who do bad things get away with it? Although it’s a cliché, there’s truth to the fact that life is unfair and our actions are not rewarded or punished based on our character. Despite the labels of being “good” or “bad”, it can still feel like the world is against us whenever we think we’re on the “right” side and feel that we’re being punished. Or when life keeps knocking us down right after we just got up from the previous hit.
It can feel like the lack of justice in the world makes it easier to give up on trying to be good or doing the right thing. What’s the point? Plenty of people still enjoy life and are successful without the pressure of being mindful or honorable. So why does it matter what we do as long as we get the result that benefits us?
The more important question here isn’t about getting the outcome that we want. It’s about how we act while trying to get the outcome that we want. In moral philosophy this is considered virtue ethics. The concept explains that in order to live a good life and be a good person we must follow virtuous principles, such as justice, bravery, and temperance. Essentially it means asking ourselves, “Am I acting from a place of ethical intent?”.
There are many ways to get what we want out of people, situations, and life. But it’s the way we do it that says the most about us. Of course it’s simpler to take the low road or the easy way out if it means getting what we want. Even if this way doesn’t affect anyone else, what does it say about our character -who we are?
Caring about our character is the first step to building quality character. If we only care about the outcomes of our actions we’re seeking immediate compensation, instead of considering the long-term consequences. We end up focusing on what we can get and what we have instead of who we’re becoming and our inner nature.
So what really is the reward for a “good” life that’s done “right”? Is it an easy life where everything is given to us so that there’s never a need to be better -to grow or learn? Or is it a life where we must develop delayed gratification so that through struggles and inequality we can experience inner growth? While this question may be leading, the intention behind it remains. Why can’t we accept a life that feels unfair?
Many of us believe that we deserve more, better. When really that’s just life showing us that we have more to do, learn, and become. It’s difficult to face our inner character, but we can continually try to become better versions of ourselves each day by seeing small steps as success -as our reward. Not for being good or doing the right thing, but for genuinely trying to keep improving inside and out.
Practices & Motivations