What is Good?

I arrived in Bali last week (posting pics on facebook for those interested), just in time for the annual kite festival, and Galungan - the Balinese festival that celebrates good overcoming evil.

So much has changed since I lived here 12 years ago. Buildings, development, crowding, restaurants, infrastructure.

Is it good? Is is bad? Who is to say?

I sit here today with many existential questions swirling around in my mind and weighing heavily on my heart.

Our planet is polluted, more toxic than ever and overcrowded. Greed and corruption thrives. I watch the riots in Hong Kong, British Airways cancelling flights to Cairo for a week, Trump smiling smugly as people chant ethnocentric rhetoric, escalating tensions with Iran.

My heart feels heavy.
And yet.

I also see kindness everywhere.

  • The driver who slowed down traffic to make sure the ducks could cross.

  • The store owner who let us leave our groceries behind the counter while we finished the rest of our shopping so that we didn't have to carry heavy bags around with us.

  • The person who returned sunglasses to us instead of taking them when we'd left them at the table.

As we were driving to the North Shore of Bali today, my daughter noticed many signs that looked like swastika signs to her and asked, "Mom, why are those awful signs everywhere?" A long discussion about the historical roots of this symbol, and the many different meanings that have been ascribed to it over the ages ensued.

Is it good? Is it bad? How are you answering this question in your own life?

Various leaders through history have promoted genocide as "good." I've listened to people who have sexually abused children claim they were just being "loving." I've watched parents beat their children for "their own good." I've heard of fathers who have murdered their daughters because their religious or cultural beliefs taught them that it was the "good" thing to do.

These days it can be hard to know what is good, what is bad, what is true, what are lies. Everything is up for re-examination.

We are being called to go deeper, to question what we've been taught, to search for more universal, life-affirming principles.

As people in Bali this evening are getting ready for the Festival of Galungan, the triumph of good over evil, I find myself wanting to re-examine & reclaim these loaded terms, at least in my own heart.

Here's my rough draft of some new personal definitions of what I see as "good" in the world ...

Choosing compassion over retaliation.
Choosing healing over harming.
Choosing reparation and repair over punishment.
Choosing active protectiveness over aggression or passivity.
Choosing shared humanity over grandiosity and shame.
Choosing kindness over harshness.
Caring about how we feel and what we need.
Protecting all life on our planet - sustainably.
World leaders who put an end to poisoning the planet and raping the ecosystem.
World leaders who honor and protect all human rights and all human dignity .
Doing no harm - to ourselves, to one another, to animals, to our ecosystems.
Fewer people on our planet.
More forests, more coral reefs, more wild animals, more nature.
Simpler living with less stuff. (Bali has banned single plastic on the island - yay!)
Honoring our intrinsic connectedness and responsibility to one another.

As I watch the sunset and listen to the cooing of the doves, I am also curious about you ...

  • What would you add? Remove? What resonates with your own personal set of values?

  • In your own personal universe, what does the triumph of goodness over evil actually look like in real life?

  • And, most importantly, what is your first step in making that goodness come to life in your own circle of influence today?

Leave a comment below ….

Yvette ErasmusComment