I recently got into “The Good Place,” which had its series finale on Jan. 30. The show delves into the question of life after death; people are sent to the “good place” based on their good actions as opposed to those who engaged in actions deemed wrongful enough to be sent to the “bad place.” In the show, it was discovered that the number of people sent to the “good place” significantly reduced over the years, because in our increasingly complex, modern society, it is much harder to be a good person.
This led me to think that it is a challenge to be an objectively good person, especially in today’s world. A lot of the consequences of our actions tend to end up being unintentionally wrong. Think about the phones we use or the clothes we wear, a lot of which may be made in sweatshops with a lack of proper labor regulations. Think of the makeup we use, which could be tested on animals without us knowing about it. Think of the increasingly busy schedules of people in today’s flextime economy, where a lack of time means a lot of bailing on your loved ones and friends, even if you don’t want to.
I have often questioned whether people are inherently good or evil, and the answer I’ve gotten from my friends is that people are malleable. We are born as blank slates, and as we grow older, it can go either way.
However, I think, barring any signs of sociopathy, people generally tend to try to do the right thing. That does not mean they don’t mess up or get tempted. But for the most part, goodness is intrinsic to human nature. But then again, so is self-interest.
The problem is trying to balance being good and helping out our fellow man, and the need to act in our best interest. This is especially hard in a capitalistic society, where the idea of every man and woman for themselves is constantly drilled into us.
So, I would definitely say that it is hard to be a good person. But it is definitely worth it. It is worth it to put the effort so that we may go out of our way to be good, to be ethical, and more importantly, to be humanitarian.