Dissecting a good deed

I have a little obsession with good deeds. What makes one? Let’s go on dissecting a good deed.

  • On one hand, there’s the intention. “I want to do good. I will give you a glass of water if you’re thirsty. I will give you food if you ask for it. I will help you cross the street if it looks like you need my help”.
  • On another hand, there are the implications of the good deed. “I want to do good, I will act to the best of my knowledge to do so, I will try hard and do good. But will I succeed? Will the water I give you be the best thing for you, in the long run? Would society benefit from it? Is it good to give you food, as opposed to taking some other action? Is it a positive thing to help you cross the street?”. The answers to all of these cannot be given. I can’t tell if giving some thirsty person a glass of water was good for that person, in the long run, or if society benefited from my action. Life is way too complex to know the exact implications of an action. Life is a puzzle, but on so many dimensions that we can’t understand it. Add to this multiple persons, with different interactions, and various changes as time passes by, and you can understand why it’s not very simple & clear on what is good and evil in the long run.
  • What would you do, if you were to wonder “Should I do good? Should I give the glass of water? Should I give food? Should I help a person cross the street?”. Almost always, the answer is “Yes!”. Try and do the good deed, whatever you think this will be. Sometimes, you might go wrong with this, you’ll help an evil-doer commit even more bad deeds. Sometimes, the help you wish to give will prove to be something bad. It doesn’t matter. Keep doing what you think is the good deed. Sure, put some thinking into it, try to act based on some thinking, analyze in the long run, not on the immediate results. Do analyze if what you perceive as good is, actually, good. But should you do the good deed? The answer will always be “Do good!”, even if, at times, this will lead to problems and troubles. Life is complex, you can’t determine the outcome. Next time, be better, make a better decision, think about the past and try to do the good, as much as you can predict it. But, always, do good.
  • And then there’s the butterfly effect (Efectul fluture și COVID – Blog de Olivian Breda). You do some deed, and it expands, it grows, from seed it becomes a tree. The glass of waters transforms itself into an ocean. The effects tend to get bigger.

TRAGEDIA LUI IUDA | Părintele Nicolae Steinhardt:

Ce trebuia să facă?

Să judece nespus mai simplu şi mai uman, aş spune mai ţărăneşte şi mai bătrâneşte. S-ar fi cuvenit să-şi spună mereu, oricând era vizitat de ispita demonică a asumării rolului de co-redemptor. treci îndărătul meu satanor eu nu-s decât un biet om păcătos.

Nu mă amăgi pe mine cu sarcini care ţin de cei de sus. N-are cine să aducă la îndeplinire iconomia divină? N-aş crede că Dumnezeu nu poate găsi şi alte
mijloace. Oricum, nu ştiu. Nu mă amestec. Nu-i treaba mea de om. E treaba lui Dumnezeu. Facă dar ce ştie şi cum o crede mai bine. Eu unul nu-s Dumnezeu, eu una ştiu şi bună: prietenul şi învăţătorul nu mi-l vând şi nu mi-l trădez.

[…]

Dacă Iuda ar fi judecat astfel – simplu, ţărăneşte, bătrâneşte, modest – el n-ar fi ajuns să cadă în groaznicul său păcat.

[…]

Cei care încearcă să-l apere pe Iuda săvârşesc o greşeală asemănătoare cu păcatul său: judecă prea subtil şi prea sofisticat.

 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Philo

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