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Is being a good person even possible?

  • Being a good person is unattainable

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I'm not sure why this discussion became so philosophical. Let's keep it simple.
A bad person is somebody who acts in ways that make him and everyone around him unhappy. He is discouraging, doesn't display empathy and inspires feelings of sadness and anger wherever he goes.
A good person is somebody who acts in ways that make him and everyone around him happy. He is encouraging, empathetic, warm and inspires happiness.

A bad person approaches you with the intention to hurt you, a good person approaches you with the intention to bring you joy. And that is SO attainable.
 

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I've had a lot of existential angst because of questions and thoughts like this.

What is "good" and what does it mean in particular to actually posses such traits or tendencies? on a more grand or larger scale, can you easily define good or does it at some point start to waiver and lot more difficult to precisely define and pin down? "good" ha, I guess series like Star Wars have attempted to explain these quagmires on a more deeper, complex and grander scale.
 

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I wonder if it can be said that a 'good person' is one who intends the minmization of harm, whereas a 'bad person' is one who intends the maximization of harm [or is indifferent about causing harm to others].

This then implies [among other things] that the 'good person' has knowledge of what is harmful, and that he has made a concious choice not to employ this.

The 'bad person' is then either aware of what is harmful and does it anyway [an evil person], or is for various reasons unaware and uncaring [a foolish person].

This would imply that it is possible to become a 'good person' only through first having been a 'bad person' - because this 'badness' is founded on ignorance and foolishness, which can be cured if a person should be so willing. In fact more or less all children go through this process in life, some with better results than others.

So yes, I would like to believe that it is possible to be a 'good person'.
 

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Recently I had a conversation with my friend about, "what it means to be a good person?" And we had two totally different points of view.
While she believed that being a truly good person was nothing more than an impossible measure that the human race has created as a goal or a hope that we can improve, into some kind of super being, when we ourselves are unable to do so.
I, however, believe that being a good person is possible, perhaps not to the degree of being perfect in both thought and action. But people can change, and become a good person.

Basically the point of this thread is to see what everyone's opinion of a good person is. Can people change? Is being a good person possible?
To be a good person simply means to treat people right, to be respectful, to be appropiate and to have personal dignity. Because without a bit of personal dignity you cannot be trusted, you'll change as the wind blows, as you have no principles to hold on to and stand up for, and that is not a nice quality. Someone who changes as the wind blows and doesn't hold on to any principles can be considered deceitful, or at least capable of being deceitful.

I don't believe anyone can be perfectly good. Not even saints were perfectly good in my opinion. But we can be better people. Generally good people. In the good area people.

There is a certain misconception in popular culture, there is the stereotype of "nice guy TM" or "nice guys finish last", I don't think they are actually nice guys, especially since they demand special treatment since they are nice.

Having no backbone and being "nice guy TM" is not actually a nice guy but someone who can't defend his dignity either out of desperation or just doesn't care about the way he is treated, and ends up being dislikeable. I personally find quite demanding the idea of "but I'm a nice guy, I deserve stuff" - you are a nice person because its a matter of good character to be a nice person and treat people right, people in general not only those you have an interest on, but you don't get bonus points for that, if you want anything extra it has to be your own merit.

Although being nice is a perk that some people appreciate, it's not enough, you don't go to a swimming competition expecting to win just because you're nice, right? why would you expect it to be different somewhere else? You need to hold some dignity to show that you're a person with personal wishes and goals, not someone who changes as the wind blows. Because, even if you have good intentions at heart, someone who can't defend his dignity and always does as others say kind of proves he cannot be trusted. It's that element of individuality, of "I won't do this" even when spoken nicely that gives you the feeling that person has a backbone and principles they will uphold when necessary. No holding of dignity, no uphold of principles, no trust.

And the second part is, of course, merit. It's not enough to just be a nice guy and have personal dignity, although that's good too. But you have to have some merit too. What are your skills? are you funny? handsome? stable? delightful? are you practicing a sport? or are one of the best at a certain activity? good character is one of them, but you need to judge your skills accuracy and be honest with yourself about what you bring to the table. You don't have to have everything, but you need to have something. If you lack in the merit department, improve, self-pity won't improve you.

I went too much into details, but my point is that, you can be a nice person, have personal dignity and merit but without being a jerk. Because I find that many "nice guy TM" people believe that either you're a nice guy and suffer or a jerk and get all the rewards. Which is not inefficient, I've seen that works, but it's also immoral, and I find something very wrong with that. Of course, jerks have a lot of merit, good character may not be one of them, but there are others that more than compensate.

They can obviously defend their dignity when challenged, that goes without saying, a "jerk TM" has no problem of standing up for themselves and defending their dignity. Others can only make you feel low if you accept yourself that you ought to be feeling low. You can reply or ignore, but others can't make you feel low without your permission. They are usually popular, soft-spoken with the right people, they are not a jerk with everyone, good looking, delightful, can keep up the atmosphere.

Those are the actual qualities that people like in them, not the actual quality of being a jerk, with other people but not them, the quality or rather trait of being a jerk with other people but not them is a tolerated trait, because they have others to compensate for. They can make jokes that hurt people, but won't make jokes that hurt people with the people they want to impress. You don't have to be a jerk to make jokes, you can do light jokes, that attack a person but attack it lightly or about things they don't care about so they know it's a joke and not meant to be hurtful.

And since they are not the target of their jerkiness, they can easily compromise that trait for other qualities. And that's how the stereotype that the jocks get the girls and are popular but the nerds are not comes about. But again, the liked quality in them is not the quality of being a jerk, that's a tolerated one they compromise for others, so it's perfectly possible to be a nice guy with personal dignity and merit without being a jerk. It's perfectly possible to have all the other liked traits of a jerk without being a jerk.
 

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For me being a "good person" is intrinsically tied to the ability to have a negative influence on the world that is tempting in some way, and then having the ability to refuse this through principles..

Why? Because if you are "harmless" and have no influence you're not really tempted at the same level to be corrupted, I mean of course you could be so evil that you murder someone or shoot up a school, but not shooting up a school doesn't make you a "good" person either it just makes you "less bad".

And even if you do perform good actions occasionally when they present themselves- are you really being tempted by corruption at the required level to say that you are truly "good" or are you just doing what you think you should? You may believe that you are good but one thing I've learned about people is that the proof doesn't come out until they are tested appropriately.

But of course even without influence over others you can still be taking proactively good actions for the sake of your own conscience only, and there are people like that- but I would sometimes question if those people have their priorities straight. If your principles are aligned that way, then why not take on responsibility at a level where you do have greater influence and then inact those same principles? Surely that would be better. You may still be a good person, but I'd maybe say you're not trying as hard as you could be to enact that in the world, unless some ulterior circumstance is really limiting you in a concrete way and that is the limit that you find yourself in.

There's a reason why when you see heroes in movies and such, they're either already in a position of influence where their principles have carried through all the way, or they begin with a set of principles which they then carry through as they progress through the storyline into a position of influence. When you gain more influence you are more good when you resist the greater negative temptations. That's not just my opinion, it's built into our moral ethos and it's foolish to ignore that.
 

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Being a good person is having the ability to do evil, but choosing to do good instead and we do it all the time, although often imperfectly. What does it take? It takes free will, intent, virtue, discipline, awareness, wisdom, and more but do not despair. Work as hard as you can to be good. What matter is it that you are rich, beautiful, popular, intelligent, or skilled if you are not good?
 

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There's no such thing as being a good or bad person, its the persons' actions that are good or bad. There exists potential for both good and evil in us all.
 
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Being able to actually care for your enemy.
Or.
Having the infinite kindness to support those who refuse their own best intrest.

Both sound pretty solid to me. Witnessed people capable of those both. Its pretty mind blowing, actually, when they dont ever drop out of that. Highly admirable.

..signing in to become a groupie of that..
 

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A bad person is somebody who acts in ways that make him and everyone around him unhappy. He is discouraging, doesn't display empathy and inspires feelings of sadness and anger wherever he goes.
A good person is somebody who acts in ways that make him and everyone around him happy. He is encouraging, empathetic, warm and inspires happiness.
What if there are no such acts in both ways? Is a person like that a good or a bad person?

I find myself becoming worse as I get older. I'm not as patient or kind as I once was, I'm not as forgiving anymore. The more I meet with different people, the more disillusioned, bitter and cynical I become in my outlook on life without using that as an excuse to make others intentionally unhappy, sad or angry (most of the time). I don't consider myself a "bad" person because of it (most of the time). I just don't do such "good" deeds as I used to. Can I still be considered a good person, or is that a kind of tainted goodness?
 
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