A Good Person

It sounds like a line Charles Schultz might have put into the mouth of one of his characters, “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.”  I know I’ve heard it out of the mouth of many a female cinema or television character – why female, I wonder – usually uttered through genuine tears, to describe a wayward, in trouble man in her life, sniff, sniff, “but he’s a good man,” by way of his defense.

What is, who is a good person?

If you’re not a good person, what/who are you?  A bad one?  An inferior, sinful, immoral, or wrong person?

Apparently if one notices the use of the phrase colloquially, one needs to be “good” in one instance or role, to fit the bill for being a good person.  For instance, in a television drama after a dirty police officer cold-bloodily, killed a man, his wife cried, “He’s a good man, a good father.”  It seems that good men in cinema are often if not usually starkly bad in some major form, but are redeemed by their fatherhood.  “He’s a good father.”

Do you think it has to do with getting into heaven?  One must be a good person for such an entrance?

I’m not so sure, theologically, on that point.  It so happens that the man identified as, the thief, who hung on the tree next to Jesus, was by definition not a good man, but  having acknowledged Him as the Savior, Jesus gave him entrance into paradise, promising to see him a few days hence.  So, this, along with so-called “death-bed salvation,” the good man theory doesn’t really stand as the ticket to heaven.

It seems like everyone is a good person to somebody.  In the eye of the beholder, we’re redeemed into the category by someone who sees something good in us.

Is it a universal aspiration to be good?  Does everybody try to be good?  Do some people, equally try to be bad?  They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, in this celebrity-driven culture of ours.  Some bad boys get the girl.  There is, after all, the bad-ass that some people look up to.  There is no commensurate good-ass, is there?

By way of congratulations, or kudos, I’ve heard, “good man,” often accompanied by a slap on the back.  And, haven’t you heard it said to a bachelor or wayward single fella, “you need a good woman” to get him sorted?

The good-person moniker is usually said in the context of some sort of criminal mischief, even posthumously, although I’ve never seen it in an obituary.  Most of us assume, what with “human nature” and all, that we’re peccable (sinful or fallible) even though most of us make an effort to be decent human beings, most of the time.

It occurs to me that maybe the good person tag comes from the humanity is basically good, but flawed (Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden, being more fallacious than others), theory -.  Oh, goodness, this begs a brief theological sidebar; which I usually avoid, preferring peace over debate.

“Christians” think, given the Adam & Eve story of Eve’s complicity with the serpent-devil in original sin, our archetypal ancestors changed the garden of paradise into a world infused with sin, pain, and evil.  Therefore, the overarching psyche in predominantly Christian societies is, if we try to be good people, we can redeem humanity from original sin and its consequences.

In another perspective, “Humanists” think, not theologically, but ethically motivated, humanity has the inherent ability to live compassionately and focused on the greater good.  Thus, we are assumed to be indigeniously good people.

So, no matter one’s belief system, it’s a human aspiration to be known as, a good person.  So it seems, this is a reachable goal in that everybody has at least somebody who thinks we’re one of the good ones!



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