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Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 05 Nov 2020, 09:12
by SamBee
Are you a good person who does bad or a bad person who does good?

I know the trite answer is that we are a mixture of both, and I agree with that to some extent. I consider myself to be a bad person who sometimes does good (my Protestant baggage) rather than a good person who does bad (my LDS present).

I wonder what I am predominantly. Evil people do not consider themselves such and good people often don't recognise that element of themselves.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 05 Nov 2020, 13:14
by Heber13
I am neither "good" nor "bad" although at times I behave in each of those ways.

I like to focus on my worth as a person, not the labels put upon me (by myself or others).

I am a worthwhile person as I am. Whether good or bad is up to judgment, which is subjective to individuals.

Is this post good or bad? :) I don't know. But it does not take away from my worth as a person to be who I am.

I think the same of you, Sambee. I don't know you too well except over the years as I read your thoughts. But I firmly believe you are equally of worth, and have contributed much to this community. Thanks for being who you are.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 06 Nov 2020, 04:35
by AmyJ
SamBee wrote:
05 Nov 2020, 09:12
Are you a good person who does bad or a bad person who does good?
Neither. I am a person (and we all are people) who make(s) good and bad choices based on individual circumstances (including upbringing, experiences, physical state, and information among other factors).
NOTE: I think that "Good" and "Bad" are usually subjective judgement calls made as a reference call dependent on world view and consequences of those choices.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 06 Nov 2020, 05:49
by DarkJedi
There are many interesting thoughts here. I was going to say "good thoughts" but as Amy points out that's subjective - but so is "interesting" because it may interest me but not you.

So semantics aside, I have mixed thoughts/feelings on the subject. Part of me believes we are born completely neutral and are then influenced by our environment, culture, experiences, trauma, and upbringing. Mental health, which would include brain/body chemistry, also plays a role. Another part of me believes in the "little lower than the angels" theory and that we're actually all born good but the same things influence us as if we were born neutral. On the third hand, I believe our core values and beliefs are all instilled in us at a very early age (under 5) and we will always revert to those core values no matter how far we might stray. Either way, I believe we are all capable of great good and great evil and we can generally choose but sometimes we can't (as is the case with some mental illnesses). I do NOT believe that either God or Satan (or any other supernatural being/entity) can directly influence our thoughts - I think everything inside our heads is inside our heads and always has been.

I think Amy brings up an excellent point about perception of good and evil. I think most of us would find cannibalism revolting and indeed evil. I'm not sure that some of the cultures of the South Pacific and other places where it was(is) practiced see it the same way. There are some who find homosexual acts revolting, but to the homosexual they are perfectly natural and "normal."

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 06 Nov 2020, 15:41
by Arrakeen
I remember reading about how people tend to attribute their good actions to their personality, and their bad actions to circumstances. So when I do something good, it’s because I’m a good person, but when I do something bad it’s because of some circumstance. But then when viewing others, people tend to flip it around. So if other people do something bad, it’s because they’re bad people, and if they do something good it’s because of some circumstance that made it easy for them.

It seems like most people view themselves as basically good people who sometimes do bad things. Everyone is the protagonist in their own life story.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 09 Nov 2020, 04:31
by SamBee
I forget who said it - it might have been an ancient Greek philosopher - but someone once said that people would be horrified if they could look in each other's heads. Even the nicest people can have bad thoughts. I think meditation helps us to recognize that. The thought may well be father of the deed, but in most cases we never follow such thoughts through. To be fair, maybe the opposite is true as well, we often think about helping others or whatever and we don't.

I feel a big inner conflict when it comes to street beggars for example. I distinguish here between beggars and street sleepers because there is an overlap but they are not one and the same. I have tried to help some in the past, but I often don't give them money because I fear feeding addictions that will kill them, and there are also some obvious begging gangs here (I've even seen them handing money over to their paymasters.) The trouble is this goes against Jesus' teachings and I'm being judgemental. I tried to work round this dilemma by volunteering for a fund raising group, and I quickly realized it was mostly a business and did little for actual homeless, so I was back at the start.

But I know that could be me on the street. I spent a brief time homeless, although not houseless (I was stuck in a hostel), so it was not that far away from me.

I know a lot of our actions are in the gray zone... But some are very clear cut. I can give you two examples of clearly good and bad things I did as a younger man:

* An elderly man was at the bottom of some steep steps and I carried up his bag for him. That was a good thing.
* I smashed in all the windows of a house with stones. That was a bad thing, even if no one was in there at the time.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 09 Nov 2020, 04:43
by SamBee
Arrakeen wrote:
06 Nov 2020, 15:41
I remember reading about how people tend to attribute their good actions to their personality, and their bad actions to circumstances. So when I do something good, it’s because I’m a good person, but when I do something bad it’s because of some circumstance. But then when viewing others, people tend to flip it around. So if other people do something bad, it’s because they’re bad people, and if they do something good it’s because of some circumstance that made it easy for them.

It seems like most people view themselves as basically good people who sometimes do bad things. Everyone is the protagonist in their own life story.
I think the last paragraph is true, but I have seen myself in both lights.

I can think of good things I've done by circumstance. When I do some good things, they go against my personality, I'm afraid to say. I can also say I've done bad things by my personality - I have a bit of a Celtic temperament which means if someone wrongs me (or I think they do), I get very angry about it and even remember it years or decades later and still fantasize about revenge. I have had to work very hard against that. I try to pray for people that I feel that way about, and it has helped. I suppose this is civilization, when you can't just go on a raiding party to the neighboring village and get your own back... Otherwise you end up like gangsters.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 09 Nov 2020, 16:11
by Roy
Arrakeen wrote:
06 Nov 2020, 15:41
I remember reading about how people tend to attribute their good actions to their personality, and their bad actions to circumstances. So when I do something good, it’s because I’m a good person, but when I do something bad it’s because of some circumstance. But then when viewing others, people tend to flip it around. So if other people do something bad, it’s because they’re bad people, and if they do something good it’s because of some circumstance that made it easy for them.

It seems like most people view themselves as basically good people who sometimes do bad things. Everyone is the protagonist in their own life story.
I think this fits me. I do understand that it is not accurate of everybody but enough to be a useful generalization.

I consider myself to be a "good" person that does some "bad" things. I believe that the bad things that I may do are justified and that someone who were to know my story to the full extent would feel to excuse them based upon extenuating circumstances. I feel that I am a community leader and family man struggling at the same time with my own demons and insecurities.

I believe that my LDS upbringing helped me to see myself as someone inherently good and with divine potential.

In the depth of my FC, I visited a Baptist church and was deeply affected by the idea that I am inherently insufficient, incomplete, or inadequate and that despite my best efforts I am in desperate need of an Atonement that I cannot earn/deserve.

To elaborate, I think that my LDS upbringing had prepared me to think that I am practicing for Godhood. Therefore over time I might become more godly and godlike.

The Baptist doctrine had me considering that maybe I am like a caterpillar practicing to be a butterfly. No matter how much I practice, I will never fly in my current state (nor is it particularly clear what things a caterpillar should do to prepare for transformation. Wouldn't it just be enough to be the best caterpillar I can be?). My lack of flying is not a failure on my part and I can liberate myself of the guilt for not flying. I am made to be a caterpillar and at some other point I will be "changed" to be a butterfly. I feel that God loves me as a caterpillar and does not wonder why I am not more like a butterfly. (The whole analogy is incomplete but I feel it helps for illustration)

To bring this full circle. I am a flawed human with many of the same types of shortcomings as other humans. I am a unique individual with a unique mix of nature and nurture that have made me into the person that I am. I feel that God made me as I am and does not expect me to be something different. It is enough that I am the best me that I can be. I am a good person that does some "bad" things that are part of my caterpillar nature.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 18 Nov 2020, 09:01
by Jabraso
To answer the original question question you have clarify what you mean by good and bad or maybe the better words might be good or evil. We all sin and "fall short of the glory of God" but that is a different matter than being bad/evil. Sin simply means to miss the mark or fall short of the goal or ideal. Sin and evil are not synonymous.

I recently had the story of Adam and Eve explained to me like this. Weather or not the scriptural account is historically accurate, at some point humankind (Adam and Eve) "ate the fruit" and their eyes were opened. They saw that they were naked and vulnerable to nature and the future. In that moment humankind became self-conscious and aware of their own vulnerabilities. Being aware of their own vulnerabilities also meant that they became aware that the same vulnerabilities exist within other people. They discovered the future and that it would be full of pain and difficulty. Exploiting the vulnerabilities of others and/or increasing the pain and difficulty inherent in life is where Evil came into the world. Good is precisely the opposite of that. To do Good you must work to lessen pain, difficulty, and protect the vulnerable. Becoming self-conscious is what led them to discover good and evil.

I don't know if I can say that someone is good or bad. It is what someone actually does AND their intent that matters. In others we can only judge actions and their consequences but rarely intent. We can only really examine intent within ourselves.

Re: Bad trying to be good or good that does bad?

Posted: 21 Nov 2020, 12:04
by Curt Sunshine
I try to be a good person, which is complicated.

That is good enough for me.