“There is good in everyone.” I expect that you’ve heard this declared; perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. Granted, sometimes it’s coupled with a caution that we may have to dig pretty deep to find good in some people.
Perhaps it’s true. Or maybe it’s wishful thinking—this hope that deep inside even the worst-acting person is a spark of good.
What is good? If we set out to look for it, how will we know when we’ve found it? Different people define what is good in very different ways.
Just for fun, let’s imagine a scenario with two global leaders. Because this is a thought experiment and I don’t want any confusion about whether I’m referring to anyone we know (I’m not), let’s call them Alien A and Alien Z.
We’ll give both Aliens the benefit of the doubt—that they are both striving for good.
Alien A sees good in an end result where no one is down-trodden. Nor is anyone a star. Everybody performs as directed and everyone is recognized equally. Good is a planned society where people follow the rules. They line up in orderly queues and adhere to the requirements for acceptable behaviour.
To achieve this, everyone must be carefully managed. This precise management also ensures that there is no need for money or for any other method of keeping score. People are equally cared for, with no ups and no downs. Choices and decisions are made by Alien A, who knows what’s best for you and for everyone else.
Over at the other end of alphabet, Alien Z believes that the good is in free people who figure things out for themselves. Z enables humans to go their own ways, even though they will undoubtedly make mistakes along those ways. Mistakes lead to learning, although some will learn faster and more effectively than others.
Some humans thrive in the freedom. Others don’t do so well, even ending up in dire straits. There is score-keeping, perhaps through money or other measures of success. People who have the freedom to flourish also have the freedom to help others. They can voluntarily give as they see fit to whoever they view as deserving, but only if they choose to do so.
Which definition of good is more correct: Alien A’s or Alien B’s? Different people will choose differently. Why? Here’s a possible explanation:
Dr. Glasser asserts that every human has the same basic needs. Those needs sometimes conflict with each other. We have a need for freedom; we also have a need for security. One person’s need for freedom may be greater than their need for security, while for someone else, it’s the other way round.
Thus, one person may be content to surrender their freedoms to get security—the reassurance that they are taken care of. Another wants the freedom to make their own choices, even though that freedom entails risk and potential mistakes.
Knowing about our needs could shed some light on why people have opposing views of what is good. I think it’s good when people can get along with each other despite differences of perspective. Maybe it’ll help us get along if we keep in mind that different people have different levels of needs.
What are your thoughts on freedom, security, and benevolent aliens?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom