What Do You Get For Being Good?

What do you get from being good?

If this were an easy question to answer, I suppose there would be more good in the world.

When you work out, you get muscle.
When you eat, you get energy.
When you do art, you get what you created.

Being good, doesn’t directly correlate with anything. Yet the theme of goodness is everywhere. Every cartoon, every novel, every speech, every mission statement, every parent-teacher conference, every religious parable, every bedtime story. We’re obsessed with being good.

We hold each other to this standard.

Perhaps it’s selfish. Good people do good things to other people. Since we are those other people, we encourage people to be good in order to benefit from some of that goodness.

Perhaps it’s control. The people that make the rules – the kings, the politicians, the priests, the bosses, whoever is writing the instructions – they know that bad things detract from the plan and that when people strive to be good they are less likely to do bad things.

Perhaps it’s survival. We’re more likely to persist, expand, and propogate if we’re not dying by each other’s hands, an easy logic that’s somehow hard in practice.

Alas, the origin of goodness is unlikely to reveal itself. It’s swirled into the Great Mystery.

But its presence is undeniable. We’ve all experienced it: helping an elderly woman out of her chair, promoting our star employee, cleaning up trash along the waterway, watching video after video of military veterans returning home to their children, giving an apple to a homeless person.

For whatever reason, we can’t often see the goodness that’s out there in the world but we’re hard-wired to feel it.

Perhaps there’s our reason right there… A clear and instant reward, hidden away under flesh and bone, a warmth and light with a quantum ripple effect that rolls through your body and expands the galaxy.

As tangible as muscle tissue, cells regenerating, a masterpiece coming together out of the tip of a paintbrush. Ah, there it is.

No need to look any further.