I believe that people are good by nature. I believe that a person can live a good, charitable life regardless of creed (or lack thereof). I also believe that there is Good. That is, I believe that there is a source of peoples’ goodness. I believe the goodness of people is but an inkling of Good. I believe that it shows irreverence to be aware of this Good and fail to recognize its reflection in the goodness of people. I believe it approaches blasphemy to declare that all people are depraved, lacking goodness altogether.
I believe that all people are capable of as much good as bad.
I also believe that nobody is ever doing their best at any time. I believe this is encouraging.
One prevailing belief, so far as I’ve encountered, is that people do their best. At any given time, a person is doing the best they are capable of doing at that time. I do not believe this is true. I don’t want to believe this is true, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to believe it is true. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I know that I never do the best I am capable of doing at any time. I may, at times, do better than I have before. But I can always (and always could) do better. I love my wife, but I know that I can always do better to express that love. I sometimes try to be fit, but I can always do better to increase my fitness. These statements are true at all times. I can always do better than I do at the time of doing it.
Another popular belief is that, left completely free, people will revert to some violent default uncivilized behavior characterized by immorality. This belief is held simultaneously with that of the previous paragraph (that people are always doing their best). I believe that that is a hopeless and baseless belief. If that were true, then where did civilization and morality come from in the first place?
That being said, I can never do the best of any particular thing at any given time. Sometimes I know exactly what I could do to do a thing better, other times I just know that in some way, I could do better. I do not believe this is a poor reflection on my character. I believe this exemplifies the true goodness of Good. My goodness is but a shadow or misty reflection of Good. I try to do good, and I think I do a pretty good job at it. I try to do good, because I perceive that there is some sort of Good to attain to.
I believe that every instance of goodness is a reflection of Good. When a murderer lets one captive go free, he is exercising goodness: a reflection of Good. I believe he would be incapable of that goodness if not for the existence of Good. This does not mean that Good made him exercise goodness, but that he was only capable of exercising goodness insofar as there was some Good source from which goodness is made available (take it or leave it).
I believe that people are good by nature. It is only with time and experience that people neglect their goodness, thus allowing goodlessness to grow. We will bear fruit according to our seed so long as the seed and soil are cared for adequately. If neglected, we are left to be devoured by weeds.
Badness is goodness dimmed.
First, there was goodness. That goodness was Good. It was a clear reflection of Good. It was like a body of still water, perfectly reflecting that which is above. One day, a bird came and took a shit in the water. Through the untrained eye, the water looks the same, but it was forever changed. Over time, more and more birds came by, dropping their lovely parcels of poop.
The water is still water. It still contains that same goodness. It’s ability to reflect Good, however, has been muddied.