#Blogfest: Musings on the greater good

#Blogfest 2:0 Day 26, #30dayscountdownto2016

There are certain things I think about when I should be reading law books. They say my head is in the clouds. Maybe it is. I be thinking about things most would consider not of practical use or likely to help in my everyday affairs of being a student or my future task of earning a living. Still I wander down the road of wondering. There are certain types of people that life is wont to make into philosophers. Perhaps I am one of those. Experiences and events and a dreamy disposition has set me down the road of consideration. These are the things I muse about sometimes.

What is the value of good? I don’t know its exact worth. No one knows save perhaps the person who demands it, God. We do know that it’s costly though. I do not seek to quantify or value good even, but still I muse.

What is the greater good? Should we celebrate the birth of the greater good or mourn the death of the lesser good? Every day we struggle to be good and we wonder, are we doing it right? Is it worth it? And is our effort being observed, approved by some higher power? Is there reward for good deeds? And if there is, is such reward immediate? If not how long until we realise it?

The idea of the greater good, I think it couldn’t be any more nonsensical. It’s just one people use in clothing whatever they originally intended to do in the cloak of nobility.

Such nobility is inherently false however as good is not great. And great is not necessarily good either. Two separate things. Great I think is quantified by large size. Size of accomplishment. Good on the other hand isn’t necessarily so. Could in fact be characterised by the littleness of the deed. When done on a larger scale that deed becomes great and may lose its good flavour. For example a man feeds two small orphans, he can be said to be good. One who feeds two thousand starving children though, that is a great man. And while the good man who fed orphans may have done so through personal effort, the one who fed thousands will undoubtedly have employed labour or a workforce. You could say in this case then that he who fed two put in more effort physically than he who fed thousands. You could and you might be wrong. For he who fed thousands could have worked thousands of man hours to earn the resources making him just as hardworking or at least having put in no less effort. There are no absolutes in this. All just conjectures.

Reasons why the term greater good is unfeasible. Good is dependent not on the receiver but on the giver and not on the size or effect of the deed on others but its effect on the doer himself. No doubt we’ve heard from the bible that the giver gains more than the receiver. It is the essence of good he attains by the act, much more valuable than any physical object he gifts the receiver that makes it so. It is also held by oriental philosophy that receiving feels good but giving feels better. That is for good. Great on the other hand is dependent on the receiver, the size of the receivers or far reaching effects of the deed. Let me explain by way of contrast. A hungry man is fed by one man. Who is the good man there, the feeder? A thousand men are fed by another man. The size of the receiver and largeness of the deed essentially changes it to a greater deed than the first man’s though does not make it ‘gooder’ or better. It’s the very essence of the deed, the act of giving that matters in good. Thus good could be said to be singular. If one man had sacrificed more, perhaps they would be judged differently. But that would be quality and not quantity like the biblical story of the poor widow of little means and her two small coins. Here both men are good, the same level of good as they have both given. Though the one who fed a thousand could be said to be great.

#Blogfest: Musings on the greater goodNow take the instance where say a man kills the owner of a farm or disposes them of such a farm in order to feed a thousand starving children. That is an example of the so called “greater good” while the man could be said to be great, having fed thousands. There is no good therein having killed and dispossessed another to do it. That term greater good is thus false as he has lost that invincible substance one attains from doing good. Note that the first man who fed two remains good and the second who killed or seized to feed thousands attains greatness but not goodness. Which brings us to another question. Do bad acts cancel out good ones? Do bad deeds influence the qualification of the good deeds that follow after or before?

Is a deed good or bad because of the deed itself or because of the intent of the doer? If I starve a hundred people ’cause I genuinely want to save said food for another thousand people does that make it a good deed? If I feed my enemies out of spite and to prove my superiority does that make the deed bad? I have fed, given have I not?Does the outcome of an action determine if it’s good or not? If I kill a tyrant and his death results in the saving of a thousand lives is such a deed good? Dangerous to say it is for that would mean that the end justifies the means and one could engage in any act with some perceived ‘good’ end in sight. If I slay an evil man that needed to be put down but his death leads to chaos and starvation of a whole nation instead is the qualification of such a deed bad because of the outcome?

Would you reward a man for an evil deed that benefited you? If you did, what would that make you? An accomplice. Would you then condemn a deed that though evil benefited you? That would just make you ungrateful. There you go. It seems the gods do not have it as easy off as we mortals seem to think. *laughs*. But then neither do us humans. These things aren’t clear-cut. The laws of good and bad aren’t written in black and white ink. There are shades of blue and grey. We face impossible choices everyday with high stakes, knowing we will face judgement for the decisions we make. Knowing this, may we weigh every deed carefully before we act knowing that for it we might either earn ourselves salvation or damnation. I hope my inane musing have some practical effect on you and how you live your everyday life. I would hate for it to have been for nothing. And as the devout ones amongst us would say, ‘May God have mercy on our souls’

Written by Donald Penprince. He blogs at Penprince.WordPress.com

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  1. This has me thinking at 9pm when I’m supposed to be winding down for the day. Not nice. You do make a very good point in that it is hardly ever black and white. I guess the goodness of an act will depend on what direction it’s being scrutinized from, and the greatness of the good will depend on the number of people from whose points of view said deed is good. It’s easy to talk about the greater good when you aren’t the one that has to pay for it. It reminds me of a question I once read, “If all the bad in this world could be eliminated by the slow, excruciating death of one organism would you allow it (for the greater good)? What if that organism was you?”Thanks, I really enjoyed this.

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