Stephen Fahey: The Greater Good

I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking it too. We’re thinking „what next”? With the whole world staying home and the internet chocked half to death with so many active users, there is a combined sense of both boredom and concern. We may be catching up on our binge watching, reading, painting, family arguments etc. and enjoying a beverage or two while we’re at it, but we are doing so as a whole. To say that we are all in this together is to sneeze at a hurricane. The facts of the situation are blunt and we’re all aware of them.

However, this great test of humanity’s potential is itself a colossal opportunity to prove to ourselves what we are capable of. Most people live their whole lives and never know for sure if they possess courage. Most of us never have to run into traffic to save a child from being hit by a bus, or into a burning building to rescue someone. But these mad days call on us to be brave and courageous. Right now we don’t have the choice to go about our lives like we normally did. But we have the choice to act with dignity and civility. We have the choice to be kinder to those who are hurting and lashing out at us. We have the choice to volunteer to wash the dishes or sweep the floor. We have the choice to act in the interest of the common good.

Behaving in the best interests of those we love is easy, most of the time. But extending that care out to those who we don’t even know isn’t. There are many compassionate souls around the globe who give their time and energy to their communities and the world as a whole. But they are in the minority. Yet, these mad days offer us all the opportunity to experience the existential pleasure of acting in the best interest of everyone. There’s no financial reward. You’re not going to be adored by millions of screaming fans. Nobody is going to give you a medal. But you will know. You, in your heart and your soul, will know what it is to not only do onto others but for others.

There’s only so much TV and board games and reading even the most ardent of us can stomach. So it is inevitable that eventually we’ll all seek out new ways of passing the time. Altruistic efforts aren’t intuitively logical, but they’re incredibly rewarding. Even small efforts, such as sweeping your neighbours’ driveways for them, or collecting litter around your street can not only provide you with a personal reward but can also act to spur others to do similar. Which itself is another reward. Good deeds are an example to set for others, especially the young, but if nothing more, they’ll get you off the sofa and give you and those around you a much needed boost in these difficult times.

As we know, the best way to help yourself is to help others. It’s not about garnering favour, it’s the opposite of that. You’re giving away your time and energy for free. So that you can do good. For free. Because good is good. And because you’ve read, drank, watched and ate your fill and now want to feed the one part of you that cannot be fed with any physical material. In the same way that you kiss your Grandmother on her birthday so too is there love in you that pours outward. We usually reserve that love and share it specifically. We protect it and we prize is. But at times we best serve ourselves by pouring it freely onto whatever might need our help or our attention.

Whether we are projecting movies onto the side of our apartment block so that the residents of the next apartment block over can have something to watch together, or painting garden fences, or washing cars, or walking the dogs of the infirm, or organising online, or teaching our kids about important matters by showing them instead of telling them, or performing any other act of kindness then we are acting for the greater good. The greater good is not about national boarders or kings of queens. It’s the greater good itself. It’s the natural order of decency. And it can be anything. It can take whatever form you want it to. You can do as much or as little of it as you wish. You can enlist the help of others or do it alone. It’s completely up to you. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?

Stephen Fahey

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