On Being Good
by Christopher Randolph
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I've been watching and listening and even reading about the Katrina disaster. People's reactions are as different as people themselves. Most oppinions I have heard fall into either political or moral positions. Within these two arenas, thoughts are polarized. I don't want to devle too far into politics at this point. I'll just go on record by saying that the two general sides are either anti-Bush or anti-victims. Neither side is correct. The problems are societal in nature. Long range policies are mostly to blame.
What I want to look at are the moral polarities brought to light by the Katrina disaster. There are moral polarities involved in the political spectrum, but I am more concerned with people's thoughts...well..concerning the victims. And, more precisely, I want to address some reactions of those moral people who have gone out of their way and even made sacrifices to help the victims of Katrina.
First of all, I want to say that it is wonderful that so many people have reached out to the hurricane survivors and given them their time, resources, food, clothing, shelter, and prayers. But, I read a blog the other day about a guy who donated his time and energy as a volunteer and left totally dismayed by what happened to him. This is really what my reaction is addressing in this article. I am positive that others have had similar experiences and left just as jaded as he.
According to his blog, he handed out water to people as they disembarked buses at a major drop off site and was insulted by uncaring people who complained that they were not being given soda pop. He then went inside and handed out food to people who asked for McDonalds instead and then neglected to pick up after themselves. Finally, when he suggested that some healthy teenage boys might help the women and other volunteers who were setting up the air mattresses and such for their beds and was cussed at, he had had enough and left the scene in disgust.
I must admit, that I really empathize with this gentleman. He honestly went down there to help out and did not deserve to be treated the way that he was, especially not by the very individuals he was trying to help. He is right, those "rude and disgusting people" did not deserve his help. But, he was also in the wrong. Oh yea, he was following a moral obligation to do what he could to help those in need. He was being very moral. He was not being a good person, however.
There's a difference between being a moral person and being a good person, after all. A moral person does good things especially to people less fortunate than him or her self. He or she knows how to do the right thing and will usually do it just because it is the right thing to do. Watch out though. Because, if you are not some one who is doing the right thing, then you must be doing the wrong thing and are therefore an immoral person which is logically equated with being a bad person. Bad people don't deserve help. Moral people who do help bad people are just all that more superior for doing so. Moral people are merely self agrandizing egoists despite all of their hugs and tears.
A good person will often look exactly like a moral person. This is because what usually seems like a good thing to do is a good thing to do. So, there we see good and moral people working side by side at food pantries and as disaster relief workers, giving blood, and helping old ladies cross the street. The subtle difference between a moral person and a good person most of the time is in their attitudes. Whereas a moral person is doing the other person a favor by helping them, the other person is doing the good person a favor by allowing him or her to help. A moral person condescends to lend a hand. A good person serves for the sake of serving. A good person welcomes the opportunity to serve because there is a need to be filled. It's not about the servant or even the served. It's just about service.
By serving, just serving, we flame the fire of Christ within us. We come closer to God. We do not take credit and we do not ask for reward. After all, we did nothing. If any good occured because of our actions it was because of Christ in us. What reward compares to the one we already have in heaven?
By serving, just serving, our light, which is Christ's, which is Christ, shines for the world to see and our LORD is glorified and, in some small way, the Gospel is proclaimed. And that makes all the difference.
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