Good, Bad, Whatever

The witch in the musical, Into the Woods, said it best, “You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice.” This was something that was directed toward the protagonist of the movie, the good guys. The characters that tried to the save the town and just seemed good. But they weren’t. They were selfish and greedy, and sometimes they did nice things. We have seemed to conflate that nice people are good people and those who aren’t nice are bad people. The word good and bad have become traits to people, which is wrong.

Let me give you a scenario: Lisa goes to Starbucks and sees a man drop his wallet, she goes and picks it up and then lets him know that he had dropped his wallet. A barista sees Lisa do this and then they assume that Lisa is a good person. However, Lisa was just being nice. When Lisa left Starbucks, she pulled out of a handicapped spot that she parked in because she didn’t want to walk far to Starbucks, this by normal standards is bad. Does this make Lisa a bad person? No, what she did was bad, her actions were bad because she was lazy.

Lisa is neither good nor bad she just does things that are considered good. We would like to believe that we are good people and that’s okay to do so. Going to a volunteer clinic to help those in need is a good thing, you’re doing it because you want to be nice. However, not going is not a bad thing. You’re not a bad person because you don’t volunteer on Sunday. Not volunteering for certain things just means that you don’t have the time or the drive. Why should someone go to a vet’s office to keep puppies and kittens company if they're allergic? That would be an awful experience for both animals and people. These are just examples of volunteering, obviously not everyone has a generic reason to not help those in need. Some people don’t want to volunteer, they don’t want to be around those in need, does this make them a bad person? Not really. This bad person who doesn’t volunteer at homeless shelters or other agencies is a doctor that’s working in the reconstructive surgery department at the hospital. They are considered good because they put money and time into school so that they can help those in need. They are also considered bad because they don’t volunteer, does that make sense? They are helping those in need because that's their career. You could say it's because they're being nice, but that word doesn’t seem good enough. 

People who are considered good are people who have been nice. People who are considered bad are people you haven’t seen do nice things. Okay, so do I call those who robbed a homeless shelter a “bad guy”? No, what he did was bad, but because he did a bad thing that makes him immoral. An immoral person is never nice, which means they can't do good or bad. They don’t know what being bad is because they don’t understand what being good means.

I am not writing this for you to stop using the words good or bad or to confuse you. Being good or bad is all about perspective. It's about what happened that made this person seem good. In the musical, Into the Woods, the witch is considered bad because she kidnapped Rapaunzel, however, if you didn’t know who she was and what she did you would consider her good for helping the farmer and his wife conceive a child (through magic, nothing kinky).