I have studied a little philosophy for a year and heaven knows it’s had an effect on me; not to the point of questioning if God really exists or wondering the meaning of life bla, bla, bla, but an effect as to logical and thorough reasoning. So I attended the class the other day and we were discussing morality and ethics, being good, doing good et al.
I listened with keen attention to the different views of what it means to be/do good, ranging from being generous, to acts of service with the aim that the same good deed would be done to you or your generation later in life. It was this last view that got my interest the most. Fair enough – what you give is what you get, right? The teacher helped us summarize our views on good and evil using the golden rule, “do unto others what you’d want them to do to you”. The appropriate standard of ethics/morality it seems.
This view of giving so you can get back means that, if I give Jenny some money in her time of need, I should automatically go back to her for money or even more in my time of distress. After all, I was there for her when she needed me right?
Or if Nick could give John some food when he was starving, John should pay him back with some nice clothes…
Or maybe Ruth should increase her Sunday offerings so God would increase His reward too… so says the golden rule.
Then the teacher asked us, what there-in is the difference between the golden rule and trade by barter? Are you actually doing good or are you just trying to be fair? Is it really for goodness sake or is it just an exchange of good for good, evil for evil?
Will I still be good to Jenny knowing that after helping her, she may not reciprocate my kindness?
Will John still get Nick nice things if Nick wasn’t so helpful at first?
Will Ruth even give to God for no reward at all?
Will my goodness always be induced by the good that has been done to me?
Where-in then lies the meaning of good deeds if what we think about most of the time is the other party reciprocating?
Where exactly is ‘the good’ if consciously or unconsciously, I’m expecting something in return?
There’s a thin line between being just, barter trade and doing good. The difference being that the first two depend solely on the action of another (what you give is what you get) but the latter is totally independent of anybody’s action except yours.
Being or doing good is not about what you can get,
It’s not even about what the other person has done or not done,
Neither is it because you want to heap coals on someone’s head,
Being or doing good is what you do because it’s who you are, without regards to whether you were favoured before or would be paid back thereafter. In essence, doing good just for goodness sake!
Now, here’s the question – when last did you actually do good, for goodness sake?