What is good: the definition
The first question that you should ask when I suggest you become a better human being, is “what do you mean: better?”
So far I have never had anyone ask that question. Why is that? Because we live our lives based on assumptions.
One assumption is that we fully understand the meaning of the words we hear.
As a foreigner I learned every single word. And struggled mightily with five-dollar words that describe a better human being.
I came to the USA when I was 38 years old. I had 29 years of academic study under my belt. I had read thousands of books. I had watched hundreds of movies. I spoke 4 languages fluently, and 3 more badly.
But when it came to words, like generosity, integrity, authenticity, dignity, wisdom, compassion, love, patience, tolerance, autonomy, validation, appreciation, gratitude, courage, fearless, self-esteem, respect, focused, ego, I didn’t really know what those words meant. I saw what they may mean in an everyday sense, but I didn’t know what they really meant.
I set out to conquer each word, one by one. Some took me 3 years, some took me 2 years. I am still not done with this list. For example, I still have no idea about dignity.
Why would I want to do all that work?
Somewhere, deep inside me, I had a knowing. And that deep knowing is shared by some people.
A famous philosopher, Robert Hartman, was known for his work on measuring human values, in a science he established, axiology. He was also famous for solving the centuries old question: what is good? Eminent philosophers could not solve that before him. He solved it elegantly in one short sentence:
Good is that which completely fulfills its design.
A good table is a horizontal surface, steady enough to hold food, or your book, so you can comfortably eat, read or write. It’s at the right height, the right size, etc.
That definition drops all the fluff and deals with the essence.
According to the Bible, The Creator created man to his own image. So, that means, that the design of a human being is to be like God.
To the degree that a human being fulfills that design, to the same degree that human being is good.
If you look around you, you don’t see a high degree of that.
But there is a very important question that one must ask, and it is not asked by many people, and you probably have never asked yourself:
What is God like?
When you ask that question, then the everyday definition of the qualities above won’t cut it.
Let’s look at an easy word, used every day: compassion? The customary and everyday way of looking at compassion is, that compassion is a feeling. If you feel sorry for someone, then you have compassion, right? Wrong!
The definition that I live by is this:
Step 1: recognizing another human being going through something that you have experienced and successfully got to the other side of it.
Step 2: offering a helpful hand to that human being to help them to the other side.
If you look at compassion this way, the feeling isn’t even in the definition. How many compassionate people do you know? When I look, I can only see one group, AA (and other 12-step programs) sponsors… they went through kicking the habit and now they are offering a helpful hand so that another can do it successfully as well.
But even those people, are they compassionate everywhere in their lives? Probably not. Why? Are they bad people? No. They were never given God’s definition of compassion, so they don’t know that is what they should emulate.
In a drop the whole ocean
You can have a whole lifetime spent on just one word, and you will raise your “quality score” as a human being by a lot.
Why? Shouldn’t you try to get better at each, a little bit every day?
Sounds logical, but the answer is no. If you are trying to pay attention to everything, you’ll end up accomplishing nothing.
What is your starting point?
I am offering a helping hand to get you where I am today. And in addition, with direct communication with The Creator, I can download to you God’s definition of a God quality, so you have some clarity what you are striving for.
To become better, you need to know good.
In the meantime, have compassion for yourself!