To Be the Good, You Have to See the Good (Speak Happiness replay from 6/6/13)


Last year, the website Upworthy posted the following image on Facebook:

upworthy pic

I love everything about this picture — well, everything except the responses to it.

The commenters on Facebook fell into three camps — those who embraced the message and exalted it; those who didn’t even see the message in green, and failed to understand that Being the Good and Believing there is Good go hand in hand; and those who denied its veracity, either in part or entirely.

It was heartbreaking.

Of the 198 comments at the time of this post, at least 100 of them were about the evil in the world.  Some comments were extreme (about warlords, weapons, rape, starvation, etc.), but some were just resigned (“Wish I could believe, but the bad far outweighs the good”).  It’s this latter group that I take issue with.

The bad DOES NOT far outweigh the good in this world.  It’s not even close!

Of the 7 billion people on this planet, most are able to adequately feed our families, and live without disease, and are not in war zones, and have basic human rights, and for those who aren’t — there are hundreds of thousands of people working and fighting to feed, heal, protect and defend them, most as volunteers and many at risk to their own lives.  This is pure Good! It outweighs the Bad the way a book outweighs a diamond — it’s larger, it carries more weight, it has more intrinsic value and experiencing it will more vastly improve your life.

Yes, the monetary worth of the tiny diamond is blown way out of proportion, and sadly there are some who can only see that one metric.  This is the same way the effect of small pockets of evil gets blown out of proportion to the daily realities of most of the planet’s population, which causes some people to only see the Bad, and extrapolate it to cover all of us.

In fact, just to drive the point home for the commenters on Facebook, if you are able to sit at a computer, with working electricity and working phone/Internet, and have the physical ability and personal freedom to type cynical comments into a public forum using your real name without fear of torture, death, loss of rights or seizure of property, then your world is 98% GOOD, so stop bitching and get out there and do something for someone else!

I’m not saying we should all just be happy and ignore the bad/evil/unjust/corrupt in the world.  In fact, just the opposite. Like the image above, I believe we have to both Believe in the Good and Be The Good.  But it has to start with Seeing the Good that already surrounds us.  And it absolutely surrounds us.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “To Be the Good, You Have to See the Good (Speak Happiness replay from 6/6/13)

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    The world couldn’t function if it were not mostly good: crops would be stolen from every farmer, the farmers would die, and then the thieves would also starve – no more people.

    The problem in the modern world is that the media HAVE to keep coming up with something that grabs attention every second of every day – so they now gather it all up from the whole world, and present it to every single person.

    It’s a matter of proportion – and the view is deliberately skewed by those who have a financial interest in ringing alarm bells. Unfortunately, it also leads to compassion fatigue: you can’t give to everything that needs it, because the begging is so constant – so many people end up not doing what they COULD do to improve where they are, and instead ignoring everything.

    The alternate view: do what you can in gratitude for what you have, which, as you’ve pointed out, is often quite a lot. Pick several causes you think you should especially support – and do so. If possible, by your physical presence; if not, by your words and your money. As a person with no energy and limited ability to move, I still manage to do what I can – and I’m grateful for the organizations and people who translate what I can send into real help for the truly needy.

    And I do what I can, which is write. And be a positive influence in my tiny world when I can. And pray for the rest. And continually update my self-awareness and improve myself where possible. THAT I can do.

    • Valerie Alexander Post author

      You are absolutely right, that we get compassion fatigue, then feel paralyzed from doing anything. That’s why I love the fact that anyone does anything — it’s a triumph of the spirit. I also find that those who are the most challenged tend to give the most, which is fascinating.

      Your writing makes the world a better place. It certainly makes this blog a better place, so please keep that contribution coming.

      And prayer really does make a difference, too. If nothing else, it allows the person praying to experience peace and gratitude, probably when it’s most needed.