Yesterday as I was driving to pick up my grandson from his weekend visit with his father, a woman on the radio said we all strive to be good people. Is that true? I did not think it was an accurate statement. Maybe if she had said many of us strive to be good people, I would agree with that. Or maybe my idea of a good person is different from yours. Or maybe it is just too hard to be a good person. Or maybe being a good person conflicts with our responsibilities. Or maybe we just fail so often to be good people, it looks like we are not even trying. Then again, maybe we simply do not care whether we are good people. Maybe we do not care how others see us or feel about us. Is that a person who is self-assured with confidence in who they are or someone who is selfish with a lack of empathy for others?
An exercise in my research writing class was to list the groups in which we are members. I thought about the nouns and adjectives I would put on my list to describe who I believe I am. There are thousands of words that I and each of us could write on that list. The labels we choose for ourselves might not be the same labels others would write on our lists. Their labels might please us or anger us. The more self-aware we are though, the more honest we may be in choosing our words. We are beings of contradictions. For so many words we choose, we might also add the opposite.
My labels are innumerable and ever-changing. My list is topped with nouns like: female, woman, wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, cousin, aunt, friend. But I also add: gardener, reader, biker, swimmer, dog-lover, cat-lover, walker, traveler, college-grad, introvert, music-lover, writer, photographer, shopper, cook, baker, cleaner, care-giver, worker, secretary, mushroom harvester, clerk, church-goer, lapsed church-goer, smoker, non-smoker, driver, passenger, boss, employee, believer, disbeliever, chocoholic, movie-lover, mountain-lover, ocean-lover, country-lover, city-lover.
Then there are the adjectives I would choose: responsible, irresponsible, loving, hateful, kind, unkind, smart, stupid, intuitive, foolish, fat, thin, pretty, ugly, self-aware, oblivious, shy, out-going, loyal, disloyal, sensitive, insensitive, neat, messy, faithful, faithless, stubborn, pliable, strong, weak, creative, unimaginative, tolerant, intolerant, selfish, generous, envious, content, optimistic, pessimistic, bitter, forgiving, trusting, distrustful, happy, sad. Some of the labels are permanent and others fleeting. My list goes on always changing and developing.
Do we measure ourselves in how we view ourselves or how others view us? I think both, but the thing we must decide is how we define good and what we do when there is a conflict.
I strive to be a good person and often fail. I accept failure as long as I never quit trying.