An essay for English detailing my personal life philosophy. It's simple, really: Be good.
Do the best you can and be good to yourself, so that you can, above all, be good to others. ~ Jessi Lane Adams
The above quote about sums up my philosophy on life. Many of the great leaders in our world’s history - Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr. - had a similar philosophy and are regarded today as the very essence of a good person. That’s really the point of it all, isn’t it? To be good.
Sometimes, it’s easier said than done. When someone cuts you off on the freeway, if you’re the kind of person who gets road rage, like my husband, you want to scream and swear and be angry the rest of the drive. When you’re having an argument with a friend and she says something nasty - a low-blow, if you will - an angry retort instantly rises like bile in your throat. Wouldn’t it feel great just to say it? To get the anger out? The mark of a good person is being able to hold it back, and not only refraining from doing what you want in situations like these (which we all know isn’t usually the nicest act in the world) but understanding why and wanting to refrain.
I believe that like attracts like. I’m not talking about an esoteric, supernatural concept of karma (although it’s certainly a good idea). Just that, generally, a smile begets a smile; an act of compassion to another human being will draw one back to you somewhere down the line, maybe when you need it most.
Which draws me to my first example: there’s a country music song, “Chain of Love” by Clay Walker. A man, named Joe, pulls over to help a woman with a flat tire. He tells her there’s no charge, just do something nice for someone else. The woman stops at a diner and her waitress is eight months pregnant and obviously exhausted. The woman leaves her a hundred dollar tip and slips out the door. The waitress heads home and climbs into bed next to her husband. The highlight of the song is the last line when she whispers to him: “Everything’s gonna be alright. I love you, Joe.” Like I said, like attracts like.
I’m about to have a baby and it’s really made me evaluate my life and my character over the last nine months. Everyone wants their child to succeed in life, be a valuable member of society, be attractive or smart or funny or have that something that will give him an edge in life. If my child ends up not going to college or receiving any vocational training and working at a minimum wage job his whole life; if he’s ugly, stupid and socially awkward, but he’s a good person with morals who gives life his best shot - I will be content.
In order for that to happen, his parents need to set the example. Children, in the beginning, are parrots. They mimic. It sets the stage for their behavior and thought processes for the rest of their lives. How can we expect our son to mature into a decent person despite the adversities of life and the cruelty around him if we don’t, also, follow the same ideal? We have to teach him that life isn’t fair; in fact, it sucks. It’s hard. It seems pointless at times and no matter what you do or how kind of a person you are, bad things will happen to you, over and over. But if you’re not a kind, just person; if you don’t make yourself an individual worthy of respect and love, you’ll just get the bad stuff and none of the good.
Setting an example holds with everyone, not just your children. When I arrived at LBCC, I was struck by how everyone will take the time to hold a door open for the person behind them. A simple thing, really, but it reminded me to hold doors for people, too. There are so many of us in such a small space - it really is, considering the number of people - and we all have things to do and places to be. Holding the door is five seconds of your time that makes another’s day unbelievably easier. It’s a small thing one can do regardless of his or her circumstances or what life has decided they should deal with that day, and it’s just one example. There are millions of small kindnesses you can show to your fellow human beings without even really giving any effort.
Dennis Wholey said, “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.”
Be good anyway.