good and bad

What is  good or bad?

Can anyone say with surety that any given act is one or the other?

Aren’t there cases where what’s thought bad ends up furthering good?

How the heck should we decide?

Some would say, “Should  we decide?”.

From Country Music Television: Good Songs for Bad Times

From the Times Online – UK: Why you can bet that a good read will be truly bad

From MarketWatch: The bad economy is good for the environment

I’m not about to tell you what’s good for you or what you do that’s bad. It wouldn’t be good for me to do that ’cause it’s bad form—won’t make me or you any better.

There are a ton of sources that will tell you what’s good or bad, from scholarly essays to rap songs. There are even people shouting on street corners, shouting right in your face, that you’re going to Hell.

And, with penetrating effect and long-lasting influence, our mothers and fathers (and, sometimes, sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts and grandparents) have told us we should do This and never do That…

I’m a member of a Faith that my parents never practiced. They were Christian ministers and I’m a Bahá’í. They worked to put their Faith into practice and I struggle, daily, to be true to mine.

So, is it reasonable to cling to the moral standards of a religion? Is it more reasonable to cling to a humanistic, scientific view of human behavior? Can the two perspectives be blended?

Are we intelligent enough to decide what’s good or bad on our own with no input from others, whether human or divine?

Just to keep the discussion lively, consider this: Within every horribly bad happening is the seed of a gloriously good outcome.

Here’s a video that should stir up even more discussion. It starts out with a bit of a shock, quickly becomes fascinating, and ends as pure delight!

Spiritual Quotes:

“Question. — Is man a free agent in all his actions, or is he compelled and constrained?

“Answer. — This question is one of the most important and abstruse of divine problems. If God wills, another day, at the beginning of dinner, we will undertake the explanation of this subject in detail; now we will explain it briefly, in a few words, as follows. Some things are subject to the free will of man, such as justice, equity, tyranny and injustice, in other words, good and evil actions; it is evident and clear that these actions are, for the most part, left to the will of man. But there are certain things to which man is forced and compelled, such as sleep, death, sickness, decline of power, injuries and misfortunes; these are not subject to the will of man, and he is not responsible for them, for he is compelled to endure them. But in the choice of good and bad actions he is free, and he commits them according to his own will.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 248

“The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others. This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the utter distortion of truth, and in all cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy. A scholar who is imbued with an understanding of the broad teachings of the Faith will always remember that being a scholar does not exempt him from the primal duties and purposes for which all human beings are created. All men, not scholars alone, are exhorted to seek out and uphold the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.”
The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 390

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20 thoughts on “GoodBadGoodBadGood

  1. One perspective is “good” and “bad” are inventions selected when human beings forget all experience has value. It has been suggested that the words you use reflect your own state of grace or level of self-acceptance.

  2. The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has waisted 30 years of his life,good or bad.!Pretty much as Journalists who do not believe the lies of politicians,but they repeat them– which is even worse,journelism is publishing what someone doesen’t want us to know the rest is propaganda.It is up to the individual to know what is good,or bad,and right from wrong,with a guided and honest upbringing.Almost like a Languash which is an anoymous,collective and unconsious art, the result of the creativity of tousends of generations.

  3. Liara,

    You said, “…the words you use reflect your own state of grace or level of self-acceptance.”

    I heartily agree!

  4. Good or bad, isn’t it all in the mind, and mind they say is all One. Its the vision of the beholder that makes the difference, I suppose.

    The idea of forum, that you just initiated is good if you get good discussions and can avoid the bad diversions. So, again we are floating in the middle of good and bad, not intentionally although.

    Best, MT

  5. Thanks for your comment, Dr.

    Our minds do seem to be the key to discerning good from bad though the heart is quick to follow with conscience-pangs.

  6. So if I shoot you tomorrow it might be good because next week you were going to run over a little kid. Not intentionally of course. But I saved the little kid.
    But my intent was not to save him. My intent was evil. Something else intervened and made lemonade out of lemons. Thanks!
    But I’m still going to jail and I will also not be able to vote in the next election. Darn!
    Bottom line is I did a bad thing when I shot you. Your family will lose a lot. And maybe that little kid was a budding serial killer.
    Too many variables. We need to do what’s right. Or we don’t matter.

  7. David,

    Absolutely !

    It’s refreshing to hear definite moral values being expressed.

    I do hope you realize my questions in the post were to make folks with less definite ideas think…

    But then, if someone reads to the end of the post, the spiritual quotes should let them know where I’m coming from.

  8. I think that if you know your own personal values, you will be able to easily judge good from bad using them. If you feel guilt, ask yourself if it is because you betrayed your own values, or those that others have put into your mind. Also, I think some bad things are done as means to a good end, like breaking another society’s laws to free an innocent person from imprisonment, for example.

    ~ Kristi

  9. kikolani,

    Thanks for your input!

    I wish more people actually had a clear inner state of evaluating their actions based on more than the shifting and unstable moral situation so prevalent.

  10. “Also, I think some bad things are done as means to a good end”

    I know I’ve certainly laid many a paves in the road of good intentions…


  11. This is such a fun post as it makes us think and inspires us to respond. But again, I did what I hever do and I read all the other comments and realized that combined they had all said it all.

    The only thing I will say is this (and I say it not because it hasn’t already been said but simply to have fun and to statisfy my desire to leave a comment 🙂 🙂

    I think all any of us can do is listen to our hearts truth, and our gut insticnts, and we may or may not be right but at least we have acted as consciously as we can. And as to having free will or as to having control over our lives…I think we can simply do the best we can and that we don’t have control over everything….BUT for myself I almost 100% have control over how I respond to any given situation. I simply look at life as manure (and I don’t mean “crap”) but as a VERY rich growing medium that can produce the most amazing flowers, fruits and vegetables! It may not always smell great, but if we don’t mind getting our hands a bit dirty (sometimes a LOT dirty) we can produce miracles and wonders beyond our wildest imagination.

  12. There was an episode in Star Trek the Original Series, in which Captain Kirk had to let Edith Keeler die, for if she had lived, Hitler would have taken over the world.

    Granted, that is strictly sci-fi, but it goes to who you that the Butterfly effect is something to be pondered. You go left, or do you go right?

  13. In far too many ways, America has become very black and white. Everything is either/or. One problem with this world view is that not only is everything set up as a binary, but one side of the binary is usually seen as superior to the other. White is not just the opposite of black, it’s BETTER than black. Even among dark skinned races, lighter skin is seen as better. Masculine is not just the opposite of feminine, it’s SUPERIOR to the feminine.

    But not everything in this world _is_ a binary. Red is not the opposite of blue. Masculine is not the opposite of feminine. Happy is not the opposite of sad. Love is not the opposite of hate. We tend of think of them that way, but the world is much richer than that. We hurt ourselves and dishonor each other when we limit ourselves this way.

    We can each do a little to make the world a better place if we start exploring the joys of “both/and” thinking in our own lives, and with our own friends. Something to think about in this very binary election cycle we’re in!

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