Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997); at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am a philosophical person and I like to think that I am a good person, but sometimes I seriously wonder if I ‘live up’ to the standards society has placed on ‘good people’. How many conversations have you heard or entered into where the dialogue goes something like this:
“Oh so and so is such a good person.”
“Really? Do you know what so and so did to somebody? I don’t even have the complete details but I am so judging them!”
We are such a judgemental collective lot, to the extent that if there is one feature that connects all races, classes, societies, cultures, countries, ethnicities, personalities, and whatever new classifications the anthropologists and psychologists might come up with, it’s our tendency to judge and label.
We might be guilty of adultery but it won’t stop us from calling another person licentious, a con man will be the first to scream ‘thief’ if someone steals his wallet, the man who is on death row asking for pardon won’t consider twice before he reports an inmate for a trivial crime, such is the state of the human consciousness.
Talk about a genuinely good person, even a saint and you will find people crawling out of the wood work telling you why they fail to meet that standard. Mother Teresa is a saint, she took in the deceased, the poor, rejects of society, the abandoned, the lepers and for no other reason that to give them dignity, cared for them, fed them and looked after them. That makes her a saint by any definition in any culture or society, right? Apparently not, her greatest detractors, among others are protestant preachers (non-Catholic Christians) who call her a demon worshipper (they refuse to acknowledge the images of Christ and Mother Mary as a Christian tradition). Which makes me wonder the obvious, if everyone is claiming to belong to the light and those who do selfless acts of charity belong to the dark, why is this world going to hell?
Every time I walk into the supermarket with my brood of three wild energy tornadoes that physically resemble children, I mentally brace myself for all the judgments. As I accomplish the arduous mission of grocery shopping, I know that everyone probably thinks that I am a terrible mother, someone who lacks the common sense to discipline her children. What they don’t know is that my oldest has borderline Asperger, a birth control failure has led to my daughters being born hardly a year apart, with both parents working it’s a complicated household.
The point I am trying to make is that we as a society have a tendency to judge, harshly, we tend to generalise, stereotype and compartmentalise. We have justifications for all our actions but God forbid if someone else tries to do the same. We resort to hurtful slander and defend it as freedom of expression but if a genuinely good person is applauded, we as a society deride them.
A good person is never supposed to do anything wrong, past, present or future. Even a parking ticket is unacceptable, how could someone good break traffic laws? Human emotions like anger, frustration, bitterness, etc. are unacceptable, not for a good person. Human errors like hurting someone, being rude, inconsiderate, or just plain wrong will instantly demote you to a normal person.
In the rare event that someone does fulfil all this unachievable standards there is always a technicality that you can discredit them on. Are they martyrs or saints? They belong to the catholic community, list all the errors (how the majority in society have decided to interpret certain historical events) made in history by the Vatican and use it to debase them.
When did we as a society decide that being good meant to be free of faults or character flaws? Good means that generally a person if given the option would choose a course of action that results in a good deed, someone who does not wilfully do wrong to others, someone who would more times than not seek for an opportunity to help and bless. Those few times that they would do the opposite of good, makes them human, it does not give anyone the right to shame them.
In this day and age when even saints fail to meet the standards of the Morden puritan, what hope lies for us mere mortals? The ones who breathe to 10 to calm down and still end up screaming, the ones who swear never to do it again only to find themselves in the same situation, the ones who try every day to get it right but every night retreat a failure, the ones who despite their best intentions still end up hurting the ones they love?
There are many great men and women in our history and most of them had character flaws but that doesn’t make their actions any less great just makes them more human and what is wrong with that?
To be great means never to give up trying, to fall a hundred and nine times but still rise the hundred and tenth time, to always believe in yourself even if the world is shouting down at you and most importantly to support others in their struggle. As far as mistakes are concerned, in the words of a wise man, it’s not what you did but what you will do about it that matters.
Supporting every human out who has fallen and will fall, “Get up and get going! It’s not the end of the world, it’s part of our DNA, it’s a human trait to fall, it’s getting up that counts!”