Sunday, November 13, 2016

Be Good


The original script:

Many of my friends and family are not actually my allies. I've come to realize this. They claim to be good, and purchase pre-packaged good to display proudly on their mantle; "military service" this, "Lions club" that, "Salvation Army" the other, all this quality-controlled, accountable goodness, without stopping to wonder just how much it really matters. They just have documented, quantified proof that they "did good", and, if questioned, they wave it around like having done something in the past grants them "good" status in perpetuity and they're excused from any greater effort unless they're feeling magnanimous. They don't need to seek good, question good, understand that evil exists continuously and good must be enacted and propagated continuously in return.

Words and deeds matter, but there is a balance... and we have lost that balance: too many people insist they're good, pointing at the trophies they've awarded each other as proof, and doing as little else as possible. Worse, they do all this while damning those who remind them that there's more good that needs doing, and laughing while they do it.

In the last five days, Americans have gone out to live their daily lives and encountered a whole new level of purely spiteful hate; women reminded that they're objects, Hispanics and black people told to go back to Mexico and Africa, Muslims threatened for their faith. It's a new level of blatant bigotry on all fronts, because hate has been validated by allowing the election of bigots and rapists that used money and blanket media scare campaigns to intimidate youth and minorities away from the polls and scare uninformed white people into the polls. These people manipulated us all with media campaigns of pure terror and no truth.

Good has lost. Evil has won, and on an unprecedented scale. This shows not only because Trump and Pence won, not just because the Republicans dominate the House, the Senate and, soon, the Supreme Court, but also because the people I thought were good almost universally don't care. They say they do, and wave their trophies around as proof, but then stand idly by while children have to scrape and beg to eat and feed each other in our schools, while police work side-by-side with privately-owned militaries to commit acts of war, torture, and racial and religious oppression in the name of private, corporate profit, women are forced to bear children for a variety of abusive and coercive predators and stripped of their right to decide whether they want to or not, and self-proclaimed Christian activists subject Muslims to a level of religious hatred and persecution that they, themselves, have been taught to fear but have never actually experienced.

Good isn't convenient, and it's not always placed on a flyer, a shelf, a TV screen for your easy consumption to satisfy your sense of well-being. Good requires vigilance, thought, concern, and genuine effort, even if that effort is needed outside of business hours. Good requires patience, tolerance, empathy, and understanding that different is not automatically bad, rising above animal instinct to act intelligently, using sentient reasoning and hoping for a better world. It takes real comprehension of informed consent, and how informed consent, for whatever purpose, requires education and cannot be manipulated and coerced.

But many people I know, with their self-importance and their “done good” trophies, their social circles all patting each other on the back and shaking each others' hands, actually abuse this same system, predating others to obtain the illusion of informed consent for their own benefit and only apologizing if caught, after the profit or the gain has been made... a radical, insidious and horrific abuse of the axiom “it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.” In fact, this is the position of the majority of America: capitalism, not for humanity, as it should be, but at the cost of humanity.

I'm an Atheist, but I've read the Christian Bible twice in my life. The first time, I was angry and wanted material to point at and be angry at. The second time, I was looking for a message, for whatever it was that people were so hung up on in this book as a whole. I actually found a message, underneath all the dogma and the political editing to give long-dead men “Divine Right”, and it was early on, when the idea of the book as a collection of parables meant to teach people good living by way of example wasn't quite completely bogged down by centuries of politics and fearmongering. The heart of the message was “be good.” Not “behave, and you can have the doggie treat called Heaven”, not “behave, or I'll spank you with a lake of fire for all eternity”, not “be good because an identifiable incarnation of good asked you to in order to make it comprehensible to peoples driven by self-interest”, but just “be good.” Because good is an amazing thing to be.

Be good.
Jonny friggin' Panic

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