Good and Harm: Why do Good?

I once had someone say to me after feeling the consequences of making what they felt was a ‘bad decision’; “I regret that. All I know is in the future I will do no harm”. During that same period of time I had occasion and reason to study young children who apparently had little to no capacity for regret. Suffice to say these young folks lived in a world where harm was simply collateral currency in service to the larger strategy concerning personal safety and well being. In short, these injured youth did harm reactively without looking back or weighing the consequences of their actions outside the anticipated trajectory of their own interests. To this day I attribute the coincidence of the vow of no more harm and the un-conflicted youth resulting in me asking myself the core question: Why not do harm? If it will serve my purpose, why not do it? That very question felt harmful to me even in the asking. 

I suspect when some people review The Good Decision they suspect a profound naivety or unnatural innocence at play with the concept of engaging with the “Sense of Good “as the first move in decision making. My response to this charge is I believe good carries within it, when authentic, so much power it would be more naive not to address the content of good with reverence and profound respect. Lately I have been asking people the question, “why do good?” and the answer almost always comes back to “it makes me feel good in a way nothing else can”. The true good deed seems to have that rare quality of being its own reward. The almost universal Golden Rule of ‘do onto others as you would them do unto you’ reinforces both the power of goodness as well it’s near total subjectivity. The human species may have gotten this far not because we are the fittest, but because of our unique capacity for creative mutual cooperation through goodness. 

Our capacity for creativity in any of its forms comes from our unique subjective states . This is why the personal sense of good is as unique to us as our fingerprints and is in constant formation/reformation. Many if not most of our religious traditions exist to reinforce the most radical renditions of ‘doing good’ beyond simple pragmatism or quid pro quo. Power is a short term insatiable motivator. Doing good is also a motivator and, far more importantly, good has the legs for the long journey.

Of course I cannot fully answer my own question of ‘Why do good?’ I would appreciate anyone reading this posting submitting your thoughts on this subject to this website. It could make for a very interesting, productive conversation.

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