Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it possible to be good and be right?

Today I came face to face with a paradox that has bedeviled me for years. There are two kinds of desirable or admirable people and it seems nearly impossible to be the best of both at the same time.

Good people are attentive to the needs of others, kind to their neighbors, hard workers, honest taxpayers, the whole bit. These people can rarely explain why one should be good. Often they don't understand what "good" means, if they even believe that their behavior is merely "normal." (Not!).

Principled people hold opinions and beliefs that they can cogently justify and explain. They distinguish between mere concurrence or sequence of situations and a causal relationship between one and the other. Most of the time, however, they are too clever by half and no one can really can get along with them, especially if they happen to be right.

The good and the principled are as oil and water. The good could stop do-gooding for a moment to enunciate why goodness is best. The principled could relax and do some good, instead of always insisting on knowing why something should be done. Neither does alter course for very long, if ever.

It's rare to find someone who embodies the best of both. If you do, let me know.

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