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July 5, 2008

In the Garden of Good and Evil

Lately I've been wondering whether I'm a good person or a bad person.

I don't think I've done anything too bad; not that I can recall. But I wonder, are good things what make me a good person? Is it a ratio of good versus bad deeds that determines our goodness quotient? If a genuinely good person does several bad things, is he now a bad person or were those actions done "out of character?"

Moreover, if I do good things only so that I might be seen as good and might generate public consensus to my will based on my reputation, am I still a good person? I would consider that person to be of the most reprehensible villiany that mankind can observe, yet all that she or he has done would be good. If a bad person does good things for an ultimately bad purpose, does that make the good deeds "not good"?

At this stage in my philosophical contemplations, I'm trying to determine what a good person is. Sofar I've come to this: we are forced into socially accepted norms of goodness and virtue. When we gain freedom from these restrictions, or a power that can make us exempt from them, our true identities are revealed. As a theist, I imagine my ultimate power or form-maker; what if there were no god or I was that god? If I look honestly, I see myself having much different actions than I do now; then I imagine, say, Siddhartha Gautama (who was not god nor claimed to be) reaching enlightenment yet leaving its bliss to share the path to others, and I see the distance between me and what I imagine as Good.

Am i a bad person then? Hmm... still out to lunch on that one. But I think it's all a matter of the strokes I make in the process of making my life, and making it better.

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